Understanding Discoid Eczema
Known as Nummular Dermatitis or gravitational eczema, Discoid eczema is a relatively less common type of eczema, more often seen in middle-aged men although it does affect both genders and can occur at any age. Discoid or nummular eczema is extremely rare in children.
Discoid eczema is easy to distinguish as the rash appears as red, coin shaped discs, thus the name “nummular” which is derived from the Latin word “nummus” which means coin. Discoid eczema is exacerbated by cold, dry air and therefore more cases are reported in winter. It is very itchy and uncomfortable and like most eczema types its’ exact cause is difficult to pinpoint.
Although the condition is known to be recurrent and therefore a chronic condition, it is not contagious, nor is caused by food allergies or genetically inherited. People suffering with Discoid eczema are at risk of developing other forms of dermatitis. Included are Discoid eczema pictures for a better understanding.
Discoid Eczema Symptoms
Discoid eczema mainly affects the trunk, arms, legs, buttocks and occasionally, the hands. The patches can be singular or many, and the rash may last for up to a month or more. It appears as coin shaped patches, ranging in size from a few millimeters to several centimeters, red, pink or brown and appears very well defined.
The patches may be dry or crusted over an in some cases blisters may be seen. The skin between the patches may be normal or dry and irritated. The rash caused by Discoid Eczema looks very similar in appearance to the tinia corporis or ringworm infection. In most cases, the patches clear once the rash subsides, however, depending on the skin tone, the rash can leave patches.
Discoid eczema is classified into wet and dry. The Dry Discoid Eczema is caused by dry skin during the winter months and is less itchy. Exudative Discoid or wet eczema is triggered by an injury to the skin, e.g. an insect bite, burn or wound and is more difficult to treat. Bacteria due to the oozing and weepy vesicles on the rash also easily infect it.
Discoid Eczema Causes
Unlike Atopic or Dyshidrotic eczema, patients who are afflicted with Discoid eczema do not typically have a genetic history of asthma or any other forms of allergies. The factors, which can trigger Nummular or Discoid Eczema, are:
- Injuries such as insect bites, burns or wounds to the skin can trigger the eczema
- An overly sensitive reaction by the immune system towards the presence of bacteria on patient’s skin
- Dry and noticeably scaly skin, especially in winter
- The administration of Interferon or Ribavirin for Hepatitis C treatment
- A slow down of blood flow in the legs may aggravate symptoms on the lower legs causing Varicose Eczema.
Discoid Eczema Treatment
As for all eczema types, the treatment for Discoid eczema involves:
- Keeping the skin well moisturized. Use good quality bath oils, moisturizing creams and mild soaps to relieve stubborn itching, excessive dryness and unsightly scaling. The commonly tried and tested emollients include aqueous cream, those with glycerine white soft paraffin or liquid paraffin mix as well as wool fat lotions and cetomacrogol creams, which must be applied to affected and unaffected areas to ensure that the skin is kept moist.
- Topical steroids like hydrocortisone are prescribed as a first line of treatment for people with discoid eczema. In addition, stronger steroid may be prescribed if the condition does not improve. These must be taken or applied under strict medical supervision and prolonged use is not recommended due to the serious side effects.
- Wear gloves to protect against friction, solvents, harsh or harmful chemicals and excessive water.
- To treat the weeping blisters of Wet Discoid Eczema, antibiotics are sometimes prescribed as these combat the bacteria, which normally infect this type of rash. However, the antibiotics do not help in getting rid of the eczema as it most often returns once the treatment is discontinued.
- When the itching is intense and extreme, antihistamines are prescribed to control it. A word of caution: when taking antihistamines as they can make you drowsy, although there are some newer ones, which are non-sedating. Antihistamines, like antibiotics, provide relief but do not cure the discoid eczema.
- If the symptoms are extremely bad and discomfort intense, the physician may prescribe oral steroids. Once again, these should be taken only under medical supervision.
- Wear loose clothing made from natural fibers and those that do not irritate the skin.
- Apply emollients and medications after a bath when the skin is slightly damp.
- Avoid scratching and do not rub the skin, instead gently pat skin with a soft towel.
- Use an air-humidifier to ease the dryness of the skin and possibly help reduce the number recurrences.
- Avoid hot baths and showers.