The Types Of Eczema And Their Differences

What Causes Itchy Skin?

If you have eczema, you are most likely familiar with troublesome skin. Eczema can cause your skin to become dry, itchy, swollen, red and bumpy.

Eczema is particularly common in children, although it can affect adults. In the UK, 11-20% of children and 5-10% of adults have some form of eczema. Eczema refers to a group of skin conditions, and in this guide, we will outline the various types of eczema and discuss their characteristics.

There are many causes of itchy skin. The best treatment for you will depend on the type of symptoms you are experiencing; such as:

  • A rash
  • Swelling
  • Dry skin

If you suffer from itchy skin it's important to see your GP or a dermatologist and get to the root cause of the problem, allowing you to receive treatment as soon as possible.

Causes of itchy skin may include:

  • Skin reactions, including:
    • Allergies
    • Hives (a type of rash caused by certain foods, medications and insect stings)
    • Excessive sweating in high temperatures
  • Fungal skin infections, such as:
    • Thrush
    • Athlete’s foot
    • Ringworm
  • Chronic skin conditions, like:
    • Eczema
    • Dandruff
    • Psoriasis
  • Insects or parasites on the skin, including:
    • Head or pubic lice
    • Scabies

Types of Eczema

There are seven different types of eczema which are usually characterised and distinguished by their symptoms and causes. These different types include:

  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Neurodermatitis
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Dyshidrotic eczema
  • Nummular eczema
  • Stasis dermatitis
  • Seborrheic dermatitis

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis – also known as atopic eczema - is the most common form of eczema which typically affects children, but can also affect adults. It is a long-term condition which tends to improve with age and produces symptoms such as dry, cracked and itchy skin.

Babies can get eczema before their first birthday, but it can also develop for the first time in adulthood. While the exact cause of atopic eczema is not known, it is understood to run in families and be more prevalent in people who have conditions such as hayfever and asthma. Atopic eczema symptoms can be triggered by things such as certain soaps or detergents, stress and even the weather.


Neurodermatitis is characterised by an itchy patch of skin that becomes more irritated when it is scratched, leading to thick, leathery skin. Itchy spots can develop on your neck, limbs or groin area. The itching can affect your daily life, disrupting sleep and sexual function.

The cause of neurodermatitis isn't known, but known triggers include insect bites and tight clothing that irritates your skin. Neurodermatitis is most prevalent in people:

  • Aged between 30 and 50
  • Who suffer from other skin conditions, such as psoriasis or atopic dermatitis
  • Who have anxiety disorders
  • Who have a family history of conditions such as eczema, hayfever or asthma

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is triggered by contact with certain substances. This type of eczema can be improved or cleared up by avoiding contact with the substance identified as causing the problem. Symptoms can include blistered, itchy and dry skin, as well as changes in colour (lighter skin may turn red and dark skin may turn brown, grey or purple).

Contact dermatitis can be caused by allergens that trigger an immune system response which affects the skin and contact with substances that damage the skin, such as:

  • Soaps
  • Detergents
  • Perfumes
  • Solvents
  • Oils
  • Disinfectants

Dyshidrotic Eczema

This type of eczema affects the hands and feet. Dyshidrotic eczema – also known as pompholyx – is a long-term condition that involves itchy blisters developing on your hands and feet from time to time. Symptoms typically last for a period of two to three weeks. The first sign of dyshidrotic eczema might be a prickly feeling or burning in the affected area.

Dyshidrotic eczema’s cause isn’t fully understood, but triggers can include:

  • Soaps
  • Detergents
  • Certain metals
  • Having regularly wet hands
  • Stress
  • Sweating in high temperatures

Nummular Eczema

Nummular eczema is a chronic condition that involves coin-shaped spots developing on the skin. These itchy, defined spots may become dry and crusty and ooze fluid.

This type of eczema tends to be more common in men, and typically affects men and women at different ages. Men usually get nummular eczema after the age of 50, while women are most likely to have the condition before they are 30.

Nummular eczema can be triggered by:

  • A skin injury
  • Burns
  • Insect bites
  • Abrasions
  • Certain medications
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Dry air, heat and humidity
  • Stress

Stasis Dermatitis

Stasis dermatitis is also known as varicose eczema. This chronic skin condition affects your lower legs. You are more likely to get stasis dermatitis if you have varicose veins (swollen and enlarged veins).

Stasis dermatitis can make your skin:

  • Itchy
  • Inflamed
  • Dry
  • Flaky
  • Crusty
  • Scaly
  • Change colour - which may appear purple, brown, grey or red

If the condition is not treated, leg ulcers may develop. Increased pressure in your leg veins is usually the cause of stasis dermatitis. This causes fluid leakage into the tissue surrounding the veins, and it is understood that stasis dermatitis may develop due to the immune system’s response to this leakage.

Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is a type of eczema which mostly affects the scalp, causing inflammation, patches of scaly skin, rashes and dandruff. The condition can also affect other oily areas of the body like the face and chest. While seborrheic dermatitis causes irritation to the scalp, which can result in damaged hair follicles due to scratching, it doesn’t lead to permanent hair loss.

The exact cause of seborrheic dermatitis isn’t known, but you may be more likely to get it if you have fatigue, stress or certain health conditions. It is thought that a change of season may also be a risk factor.

Eczema Treatment

If you suffer from eczema, it's important to get checked out so your GP can diagnose your condition and determine the best course of action. They may suggest a cream that contains steroids or antibiotics - such as Betamethasone Cream and Ointment or Fucidin H Cream - to help soothe symptoms like inflammation and itching.

You can purchase Betamethasone and Fucidin H Cream through our online pharmacy, as well as other effective creams, lotions and ointments. Browse our full range of eczema and psoriasis treatments today and undergo a quick consultation to purchase these prescription-only medications online.