Eczema: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention Tips

April 07, 2021

The rising levels of environmental pollutants, unhygienic and unhealthy foods, and the lack of personal care practices bring on a myriad of health problems. Among the most common are skin conditions, to which the different eczema types are a sober testament. Rather than being classified as just one health condition, eczema should be thought of as a reactionary response of the skin to the existence of disease or an irritant. As such, there are several causes and each of the different types of eczema have unique characteristic symptoms. This also applies to treatment and you shouldn’t employ a one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with this problem.

Naturally, dealing with any form of eczema should be done only after initially consulting a doctor. This is because there are many factors responsible for eczema and unguided treatment can worsen the problem. Further, some forms of eczema are contagious, which is why it isn’t advisable to leave it unchecked or undiagnosed, especially for prolonged periods of time.

To know more about all the different eczema types, their causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention options available to you, take a look at the following pointers.

What are the different eczema types?

Different schools of thought categorise eczema types differently. Some suggest that there are 6 main types while some say 7 and others 11. In any case, each categorisation covers the major eczema types. For a comprehensive understanding of this skin condition, here is a breakdown of the 11 different eczema types.

  1. Allergic contact dermatitis: This is a type of contact dermatitis that occurs when you have an immune system reaction to an irritant. The symptoms include:
    1. Itchy, red skin that burns and stings
    2. Blisters on the skin that may be filled with fluid or ooze and crust over
    3. Scaly or leathery skin
    4. Hives on the skin
  2. Irritant dermatitis: This is a type of eczema that occurs in people who repeatedly wash their hands or skin or have their skin exposed to toxic substances. Typically known as hand eczema, this is common in professions like cleaning or hairdressing as the hands are usually exposed to chemicals that can possibly irritate the skin. The symptoms of this condition are as follows:
    1. Cracked or blistered skin
    2. Itchy and dry hands
  3. Atopic dermatitis: This is the most common form of the skin condition. It is a part of the atopic triad, meaning it is usually paired with asthma and hay fever. The best way to identify the characteristics of this condition at home is to look up pictures of atopic dermatitis. Here, you’ll find these common symptoms on display:
    1. Rashes on scalp or cheeks of babies
    2. Rashes in the creases of knees or elbows
    3. Bumpy skin that may leak fluid if burst
    4. Areas of darker or thicker skin

Atopic eczema pictures offer a good understanding of what to look for if you’re concerned that you may have the condition.

  1. Fungal infection: This is a type of eczema that leaves a pattern identical or characteristic to other forms of eczema. The only way to visualise the fungus is to use a microscope or to grow a culture.
  2. Stasis dermatitis: This is a condition that presents itself when there is fluid leaking out the weakened veins. As a result, there is redness, pain, and itchiness. This type of eczema is also known as varicose eczema and is quite commonly present in elders that have varicose veins. In such cases, it is important to control scratching the delicate skin in these areas to avoid a flare-up. Some of the common symptoms to expect with this condition are as follows:
    1. Achy legs
    2. Itchy skin around the varicose veins
    3. Swelling in the legs
    4. Open sores in the area
  3. Dyshidrotic dermatitis/ eczema: Dyshidrotic eczema fingers and Dyshidrotic eczema hands are well-known characteristics of this condition. It is a condition that affects the hands and the feet. It typically presents in adults that are over the age of 40 years and can bring about an intense urge to scratch the dyshidrotic eczema blisters. This is when it is important to ensure that you have some form of dyshidrotic eczema medicine or dyshidrotic eczema cream at the ready as these blister could ooze pus, if infected.

    With dyshidrotic eczema, feet blisters are also common and will require equal care. Whether it is a dyshidrotic eczema ointment or any other form of medication, you need to pay special attention to the symptoms on your feet as they’re usually covered or more exposed to bacteria. Besides creams, Dyshidrotic eczema cures include:

    1. Light therapy
    2. Medications to suppress the immune system
    3. Draining of the hand finger dyshidrotic eczema blisters
    4. Botulinum toxin
  4. Nummular dermatitis/ eczema: Also known as discoid eczema, this is a condition that is easily recognised due its unique characteristic of causing disc-shaped patches on the skin. You can see these if you do a quick search for nummular eczema pictures, which you can use for reference in case you may be showing similar symptoms. These discs can appear on both children and adults on either the torso, forearms, or legs. Treatment of discoid eczema includes:
    1. Oral steroids
    2. Moisturising with emollients
    3. Antibiotics
  5. Xerotic eczema: Also known as Asteatotic eczema, this condition usually affects those above the age of 60 years. It is typically a problem for those with drier skin and appears on the lower legs. Symptoms of this condition include scaling, itchiness, and red grooves in the skin.
  6. Lichen simplex chronicus: Also known as Neurodermatitis, this is a skin condition that generally presents around the neck, legs, anal region, wrists, and forearms. It is typically a lifelong condition and this mainly due to the intense feeling of itching that comes along with it. A characteristic feature of neurodermatitis is the thick, leathery skin that forms at the affected area. This condition isn’t life threatening or contagious, but its symptoms worsen the more you scratch the affected area. Some of the complications include permanent scarring of the skin, bacterial infections, and wounds.
  7. Seborrheic dermatitis: This is a rash caused on the ears, face, or scalp. In some adults, it could affect the mid-chest area too. Infants are a greater risk of developing a lasting condition as the rash can get oozy and spread to other parts of the body.
  8. Scabies: This is a skin condition caused by mites, which can produce a rash on the skin, similar to the other forms of eczema.

How is eczema treated?

Depending on the type of eczema, the medications and medical procedures vary. Some doctors may resort to topical ointments, while some cases may require antibiotics or specialised therapy options.

Here’s a list of common medical treatments for eczema:

  • Topical corticosteroid creams: Such anti-inflammatory medications typically relieve most symptoms of eczema. These mainly include inflammation and itchiness. Depending on the severity of the condition, some cases will require prescription-strength ointments, while the others should be available over the counter. These creams are applied topically, over the area affected by the eczema.
  • Antiviral and antifungal medications: Eczema can be caused by a fungus or virus, for which these medications are administered.
  • Systemic corticosteroids: Systemic corticosteroids are the next solution if topical ointments prove ineffective. Such medications are usually administered as oral tablets or via injection. These are only available on the prescription of a specialist and are recommended only for short periods of time.
  • Antihistamines: Helps reduce night-time itching, which can be a problem faced by many.
  • Topical calcineurin inhibitors: Used to help prevent flares by suppressing the immune system.
  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics are usually prescribed if the eczema is present alongside a bacterial infection.
  • Barrier repair moisturizers: Helps repair the skin and prevents water loss.
  • Phototherapy: Exposure to UVA or UVB waves aids treatment for moderate dermatitis. 

What are the home care options when dealing with eczema?

While medications can be an integral part of treatment, some forms of eczema can be helped with better personal care at home. These home remedies are natural, safe, and help put in place better habits for improved skin health.

Take a look at popular home care options to help you deal with eczema:

  • Moisturise skin within 3 minutes of showering or bathing to lock in moisture
  • Wear soft fabrics
  • Use a humidifier in dry or cold weather
  • Do not rub the skin when drying. Air dry or gently pat the skin with a clean towel
  • Take lukewarm baths or showers
  • Cut your fingernails short to avoid breaking the skin if you scratch it
  • Moisturise skin daily
  • Wash skin with a mild soap or a non-soap cleanser
  • Avoid your individual eczema triggers
  • Avoid tight clothing
  • Take the right precautions during the winter 

How can you prevent an eczema flare-up?

If you’re prone to skin conditions or a certain type of eczema, relying on treatment isn’t your only option as there is no cure for eczema. Hence, it is smart to try preventive care measures. These can improve your quality of life by reducing your risk of infection. Here are few practices to try:

  • Steer clear of perfumes or fragrances that may be irritants
  • Avoid wearing tight clothes
  • Use gentle, mild soap and detergents
  • Do not rub or scratch the skin
  • Keep your skin hydrated with non-cosmetic moisturisers
  • Try taking showers with cool water
  • Use oil-rich products to moisturise the skin
  • Add a cool compress to keep itching in check
  • Use gloves or protective clothing if you handle chemicals

Considering the various eczema types and their respective symptoms, it helps to know more about them, especially if you want to treat a skin condition before it gets worse. Such information may be particularly relevant to those that are prone to the types of eczema on hands or the face as these are generally more exposed.

Dealing with eczema is usually priority as any secondary form of infection is contagious, which you could spread to your loved ones or those around. To avoid any health complications associated with the different types of dermatitis, swift and effective medical care is your best course of action. Thankfully, this is easily achieved when you use the Bajaj Finserv Health App.

Loaded with state-of-the-art telemedicine features and perks, this digital tool has made accessing quality healthcare easier than ever. With it, finding the best skin specialists or dermatologist in your city is now possible all through your smartphone, thanks to the smart doctor search functionality. To take convenience one step further, the app can be used to book appointments at health clinics completely online, thus eliminating the need for any additional effort. You can also access the health library to learn more about the various health conditions. For quick and easy access to these benefits, download the app for free from Google Play or the Apple App Store today!