There are several types of eczema. Understanding which one you have will help you treat your condition as effectively as possible.
To determine which type of eczema you have, answer the following questions:
- At what age did you develop eczema?
- Which areas of your body does your eczema effect?
- What are the key triggers of your eczema?
- What does your eczema look like, and do you suffer from blistering?
1. Atopic eczema
Atopic eczema is the most common form of eczema. It's caused by a genetic 'blip' that makes skin less able to do its job. If you have atopic eczema, it's most likely to have started from a young age, and it's something you've suffered from ever since.
2. Contact dermatitis/eczema
Just as it sounds, this form of eczema develops when you've come in contact with something that your skin doesn't like. You can liken it to a form of allergic reaction. Contact eczema flares up within a few hours of touching or being in close proximity to an allergen or irritant.
3. Seborrhoeic dermatitis, adult
Seborrhoeic dermatitis is usually concentrated to those areas of skin with a large number of oil glands. The scalp, eyebrows, and T-zone are most prone to this type of eczema.
4. Seborrhoeic dermatitis, infantile
This type of eczema is also known as 'cradle cap'. Infantile seborrhoeic dermatitis occurs in infants under the age of 1, usually around the scalp, although it can affect the same areas that adult seborrhoeic dermatitis can. The condition occurs spontaneously and usually clears up by itself within a few weeks or months.
5. Discoid eczema
Discoid eczema is distinctive in its appearance: small, round patches about the size of a bottle cap. These patches begin as bumpy areas of skin and start to ooze a few days later. As each patch of discoid eczema progresses, skin becomes dry and flaky. The centre becomes clear and is surrounded by a telltale red circle of inflammation.
6. Pompholyx eczema
If you've developed a rash of blisters, it's likely you are suffering from pompholyx eczema. This type of eczema is most commonly found on the hands and feet, and it's unusual in people over 40.
7. Asteatotic eczema
Asteatotic eczema is something you might suffer from if you're over 60. Skin becomes chronically dry and cracked. Sometimes the cracked areas redden, leaving skin with a dry, mottled appearance.
8. Varicose eczema
If you suffer from varicose veins or any other condition that weakens the vein walls, then you're susceptible to varicose eczema. Varicose veins occur when blood and fluid pools in areas like your lower legs instead of returning against gravity to your heart. This pooled fluid can then leak into your skin, causing a speckled red rash that becomes hot and itchy. Eventually, if the condition is not treated, varicose eczema develops.
For a definitive diagnosis, talk to your primary care physician or a specialist such as an allergist or dermatologist.