Eczema, also known as dermatitis, is an inflammation of the skin that can affect anyone of any age or gender. It comes in many different forms, from its mildest symptoms to severe conditions that can cause chronic pain and are difficult to treat.
There are many types of eczema and various treatments that may work better than others depending on the type you have; here’s what you need to know about the most common forms of eczema and how to treat them effectively.
1) Atopic Dermatitis
Atopic dermatitis is an incurable form of eczema. Dermatologists recommend keeping your home clean, avoiding harsh soaps, moisturizing often, and wearing soft fabrics.
You may also consider over-the-counter antihistamines or steroid creams. If these things don’t work, talk with your doctor about immunosuppressants like cyclosporine (Restasis).
Other treatments include biologics like etanercept (Enbrel) or infliximab (Remicade), both used for rheumatoid arthritis, which reduces inflammation in some patients; phototherapy with ultraviolet light; injections with corticosteroids; or leukotriene inhibitors that ease swelling around blood vessels.
A more radical approach is plasmapheresis, a process where plasma (the liquid part of the blood) is removed from your body and treated outside.
The goal is to remove substances responsible for inflammation, such as cytokines or antibodies that are linked to autoimmune diseases. However, researchers aren’t sure how well plasmapheresis works because studies have been small and poorly designed.
Newer treatment options—like injectable medications called calcineurin inhibitors—are also being tested but haven’t yet been approved by U.S. regulators for atopic dermatitis specifically.
2) Nummular Dermatitis
Nummular dermatitis, or nummular eczema, causes itchy, coin-sized patches on the skin. This form of eczema is chronic and affects more men than women. People with nummular dermatitis tend to have dry skin that flares up from stress or changes in humidity.
Since stress can aggravate a flare-up, try meditation or yoga—even just ten minutes a day—to control your body’s reaction to stressful situations.
Another way to keep outbreaks at bay is by using moisturizers like Cetaphil® Daily Advance Ultra Hydrating Lotion SPF 30. The lotion contains ceramides, which help repair damaged skin cells.
Ceramides are naturally found in healthy skin, but as we age, they break down and become less effective at keeping moisture inside our bodies. A study published in Contact Dermatitis showed that patients who used Cetaphil daily had significantly fewer outbreaks compared to those who used their regular soap products.
3) Dyshidrotic Eczema
This type of eczema is characterized by small, fluid-filled blisters on the hands or feet. It’s rarer than other types but can be very painful. If you think you have dyshidrotic eczema, then seeing a dermatologist should be at the top of your priority list. Don’t use any ointments that could make your symptoms worse, like cortisone creams. Instead, try soothing gel-like hydrocortisone or colloidal oatmeal (prescription).
At home, treatments are limited but may include moisturizing more often and wearing cotton gloves at night to prevent your skin from drying out further. Over-the-counter options also exist for mild cases.
Ask your doctor about prescription antihistamines or anti-inflammatory medications if over-the-counter remedies aren’t helping.
4) Seborrheic Dermatitis
Seborrheic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease that causes red, scaly patches on areas where there are a lot of oil glands. It can occur in infants, but it’s also common in adults; it’s most often found on your scalp or behind your ears.
According to National Eczema Association, these conditions result from an overproduction of sebum (skin oil) due to an overgrowth of yeast-like fungi called Malassezia furfur (Malasseziapachydermatis). The oily, crumbly discharge clogs hair follicles and irritates surrounding skin cells.
If left untreated, seborrheic dermatitis can cause permanent hair loss in affected areas.
5) Stasis Dermatitis
Stasis dermatitis, also known as varicose eczema, is a condition that affects your legs when fluid builds up in your veins. This type of eczema can cause itching and burning.
To treat stasis dermatitis, avoid tight clothing. Use mild soaps for bathing. Apply lotion to affected areas several times per day. For severe cases, visit a dermatologist for prescription medications or cortisone injections into affected areas.
If you have diabetes, you’re at a greater risk for developing stasis dermatitis. If you suspect you, have it, contact your doctor immediately.
Without treatment, stasis dermatitis can lead to skin ulcers. The following types of eczema are not caused by bacteria: Atopic Dermatitis: The most common form of eczema, atopic dermatitis typically occurs on hands and feet in children under age five but may affect adults as well.
Symptoms include dryness, redness, and thickening of the skin.
6) Neurodermatitis (or Psicodermia in medical terms)
This form of eczema, also known as chronic idiopathic urticaria, typically affects children. It can be difficult to treat because it occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue in your body. For a child with autoimmune dermatitis, it may take weeks or months before most symptoms improve.
In some cases, steroidal creams may help ease itching and reduce redness within days or even hours. If these over-the-counter medications aren’t helpful, you should visit your doctor for further advice. Additionally, many doctors recommend avoiding woolen clothing, long hot baths, and extreme temperatures.
Because there is no cure for neurodermatitis, treatment focuses on relieving inflammation and itchiness so that affected individuals can lead normal lives.
Unfortunately, no cure has been found yet. However, if you suffer from neurodermatitis it is important to avoid triggers such as certain foods (dairy products), stress, or strong emotions (such as anger).
You will probably have to consult a specialist such as an allergist/immunologist who will try to find out what triggers your skin problem by doing blood tests etc., but once that has been done then antihistamines are usually prescribed by mouth which helps a lot.
7) Autoimmune Dermatitis
When someone has auto-immune dermatitis, their immune system mistakenly identifies a substance produced by their own body as harmful, resulting in an immune response.
In addition to rashes, people with autoimmune dermatitis may experience other skin symptoms such as itching or swelling. Treatment is aimed at calming inflammation and may include topical corticosteroids or immunosuppressants. Antihistamines can also be used for symptomatic relief.
It’s important to note that these medications aren’t curative; they only treat symptoms. For some people, treatment results in long-term remission. For others, it simply reduces flare-ups until another trigger causes them to flare up again.