Eczema Explained by Dr Howard Murad

There are 7 types of eczema. Did you know that? And it matters which type you have. Read on to discover more…

The tell-tale symptoms of eczema can be so maddening that the idea of determining a particular type may not even cross your mind. But what exactly is eczema and, more importantly, can it be treated? Dermatologists know there are a total of 7 ways to classify eczema and diagnosing them correctly helps treat it most efficiently. 

01: Atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis (atopic eczema) is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that can appear on almost any part of the body. You’ll have a much higher chance of being diagnosed with atopic dermatitis if someone in your family has it. Plus, there appears to be a correlation between having the condition and suffering from allergies, hay fever and asthma.  

Atopic Dermatitis typically surfaces in childhood, though it can crop up at any age and its symptoms include: 

  • Redness 
  • Dry patches 
  • Skin toughness/ roughness 
  • Rashes that may emit clear liquid (or blood) when scratched. 

02: Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is an acute skin reaction in response to either an irritant (like a chemical) or an allergen (any substance your immune system won’t tolerate). A rash is one of the telltale signs of allergic contact dermatitis. Symptoms can also include: 

  • A burning or stinging sensation 
  • Red or swollen skin 
  • Blisters 
  • Flakiness 

Unlike atopic dermatitis, which is a chronic skin condition, contact dermatitis is acute. As such, it often clears up swiftly with immediate, correct treatment.

03: Neurodermatitis

This form of eczema impacts roughly 12% of the population. While it’s not contagious or life-threatening, it can be chronic, and it’s characterized by extreme itchiness and skin discomfort. Affected regions typically measure anywhere from 3 to 10 centimeters, and may also appear: 

  • Scaly and discoloured. 
  • Thick or leathery 
  • Dehydrated 

The condition is a sleep-stealer—research shows that neurodermatitis becomes especially active at night when our bodies are at rest. The cause is unknown, but there’s some evidence to show the condition may be linked to emotional distress. 

04: Dyshidrotic eczema

Dyshidrotic eczema, or pompholyx, accounts for approximately half of “hand dermatitis” cases. It’s a chronic and notorious condition known for causing the skin to break out into small blisters. It may result in cracked, dehydrated skin, as well as: 

  • Scaliness or peeling
  • Red, toughened skin 
  • Nail discolouration  
  • Pain 

The precise cause of dyshidrotic eczema remains unclear. However, stress, extreme weather and exposure to metals can contribute to its onset.  

05: Nummular eczema

Nummular eczema makes itself known with circular, coin-shaped sores that can crop up on the hands, arms, legs and stomach. It’s more prevalent in men, and symptoms include skin discoloration around breakouts (often appearing pink, red or brown), while the lesions can weep liquid and crust over. The condition can also provoke an itching, burning or stinging sensation on the skin. 

Nummular eczema can be triggered by: 

  • Overly dry skin 
  • Certain medications 
  • Injuries to your skin (like a scrape or an insect bite) 
  • Stress

As disturbing as these scattered lesions can be, they often fade within several days of treatment and in many cases won’t return. 

06: Seborrheic dermatitis

Commonly referred to as dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis is one of the more common forms of eczema that tends to rear up in places where you have hair, such as: 

  • Scalp 
  • Eyebrows 
  • Behind the ears 
  • Around the sides of the nose 
  • Belly button 
  • Chest 

Neither contagious nor a severe health risk, seborrheic dermatitis can usually be treated successfully with antifungal lotions, steroid creams, or medicines. While its causes are unknown, some experts think it may have to do with an overgrowth of Malassezia, a specific type of yeast that’s normally found (in smaller amounts) in the skin. 

07: Stasis dermatitis 

Stasis dermatitis, also called gravitational dermatitis, is a type of eczema that causes fluid to accumulate and leak into the lower limbs of the body and is often accompanied by skin discoloration known as “cayenne spots.” 

In addition to redness, itchiness, and scaling, it can also trigger: 

  • Pain 
  • Achiness and heaviness in the legs 
  • Shiny skin (which typically occurs in advanced cases) 

A strain of eczema that typically affects people over the age of 50, stasis dermatitis may be linked to a condition known as venous insufficiency, where people experience depressed circulation in the legs, causing blood to stagnate in the lower body, leading to a loss of blood flow to the skin. In many cases, this compromised blood flow winds up triggering stasis dermatitis. 

This type of eczema has also been linked to: 

  • Underlying health issues, like kidney or heart disease 
  • Varicose veins 
  • Lack of exercise 

Since the exact causes of eczema aren’t well understood, it’s likely your healthcare provider will recommend a multi-pronged approach to management, from developing a sensitive skincare routine, including or excluding certain foods, avoiding triggers and managing stress. 

ExaSoothe, Murad’s new collection for sensitive and eczema-prone skins launches in Australia in March. This is a highly effective, deeply sensorial 3-part system for irritated skins. ExaSoothe works to instantly soothe and calm skin, while relieving itch and discomfort. It’s anything but your typical greasy ointment, this treatment range provides on-the-spot relief from uncomfortable itch, redness, rashes, and discomfort exacerbated by eczema, sensitive skin, dermatitis and more.

To find out more about Murad’s ExaSoothe range retail range and professional treatments, contact us at:



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