Discoid eczema, also known as nummular or discoid dermatitis, is a long-term skin condition that causes skin to become itchy, reddened, cracked and swollen. The term ‘discoid’ refers to the disc- or coin-shaped spots of eczema that are a unique feature of this condition. These spots typically occur on the lower legs, hands and forearms, and they can last for several weeks to months if left untreated.

Though the exact cause of discoid eczema is unknown, it’s often associated with dry skin and is thought to be triggered by a skin injury, such as a burn, insect bite or abrasion. Discoid eczema can affect people of all ages, but it tends to occur more commonly in adults.

Discoid eczema

Treatment typically involves moisturizers to hydrate and soothe the skin, and topical corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and itchiness.

Causes of Discoid eczema

Discoid eczema, also known as nummular eczema or discoid dermatitis, is a chronic type of dermatitis that can affect both males and females of any age. The precise cause of discoid eczema is unclear, but several possible factors may influence its development.

1. Genetic Factors: Like many other skin conditions, discoid eczema can have a genetic component. This means that it may run in families or individuals may have a genetic predisposition towards developing the condition.

2. Environmental Factors: Dry skin is often susceptible to discoid eczema. It can be triggered by environmental factors such as dry or cold weather.

3. Skin Injury: A skin injury like an insect bite or burn can trigger discoid eczema at the wounded site.

4. Stress: Emotional stress can flare-up the discoid eczema in some people.

5. Health Issues: People with overall poor skin health or other health conditions, particularly autoimmune disorders like systemic lupus, have a higher risk of developing discoid eczema.

6. Allergic Reactions: Some people might develop discoid eczema in response to certain substances, such as certain metals, formaldehyde, or certain types of fabric.

7. Use of Certain Medication: Some medications are known to cause discoid eczema in certain individuals. These medications include isotretinoin and interferon-alpha.

Remember, the exact cause can vary from person to person, and often, a combination of genetic and environmental factors is involved. It’s always best to consult a healthcare practitioner for an accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Risk Factors of Discoid eczema

Discoid eczema, also known as nummular dermatitis or discoid dermatitis, is a long-term skin condition that causes skin to become itchy, reddened, and cracked. It is usually seen in adults with dry skin although it can affect teens and young adults. The exact cause of discoid eczema is not understood, however, there are several risk factors that can trigger or exacerbate this condition:

1. Dry skin: Individuals with severely dry skin are more likely to develop discoid eczema.

2. Cold weather: The condition may become worse during the colder months, perhaps due to the drier air and reduced humidity.

3. Previous Skin Issues: Those with a history of skin conditions, such as atopic dermatitis or eczema, are at a higher risk.

4. Stress and Anxiety: Many people report that stress and anxiety trigger discoid eczema flare-ups.

5. Injury to the skin: Skin damage, due to insects bites, scrapes, or chemical burns, might lead to discoid eczema. This is known as the Koebner response.

6. Poor venous return: Poor circulation, especially in the lower legs can predispose the area to discoid eczema.

7. Alcohol and Smoking: The use of alcohol and tobacco products can exacerbate the condition.

8. Allergies: Allergic reactions to metals, fragrances, or certain plants can sometimes contribute to developing this type of eczema.

It’s important to note that discoid eczema is not contagious, and cannot be passed on to another person. If you suspect you may have discoid eczema, it’s best to visit a dermatologist for treatment options.

Please note, this advice is intended to be general in nature, and specific causes may not apply to your situation. Always consult with a healthcare provider for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

Signs and Symptoms of Discoid eczema

Discoid eczema, also known as nummular or discoid dermatitis, is a long-term skin condition that causes skin to become itchy, reddened, swollen, and cracked. Below are the common signs and symptoms:

1. Round or oval patches: The first sign of discoid eczema is usually a group of small red, brown, or pink spots. These spots quickly become round (or oval) patches of eczema.

2. Itchy Skin: The patches may be intensely itchy or they may not itch at all. Scratching the patches tends to aggravate the condition and cause further inflammation.

3. Dry and Cracked Skin: The patches are often very dry, which makes them thick and leathery. The skin may crack, especially in extremely dry conditions.

4. Soreness: The patches can be sore and painful, especially if they crack and become infected.

5. Size Variation: Patches can range from a few millimeters to several centimeters in diameter. They usually last for several months and can leave a pale or hyperpigmented mark on the skin once they have cleared.

6. Oozing and Crusting: In severe cases, the patches may ooze fluid and become crusted.

7. Formation on limbs: This kind of eczema often presents itself on the lower legs, hands, and trunk, although it can appear on any part of the body.

Discoid eczema can sometimes be challenging to manage and may recur even after successful treatment. If you suspect that you or someone else may have this condition, it would be beneficial to consult with a healthcare professional or dermatologist for diagnosis and treatment options.

Diagnosis Discoid eczema

Discoid eczema, also known as nummular or discoid dermatitis, is a long-term (chronic) skin condition that causes skin to become itchy, swollen, and cracked. The term “discoid” refers to the circular or disc-like shape of the patches that characterize this condition.

This type of eczema is usually seen in adults with dry skin, though it can affect individuals at any age. It appears in the form of round or oval patches of eczema, which can occur anywhere on the body but are most commonly found on the lower legs, torso, and forearms. The patches are often pink or red, and may have small bumps or blisters. Over time, they might turn brown, get crusty, and scale over.

The exact cause of discoid eczema is unknown, but certain factors seem to trigger the condition, such as dry skin, stress, use of harsh soaps or detergents, environmental irritants, and alcohol consumption. It’s not contagious, meaning it cannot be passed from person to person.

Discoid eczema can be challenging to treat because it tends to recur even after the symptoms have cleared up. Treatment typically involves the use of emollients (moisturisers) to soothe and hydrate the skin and the application of topical steroid creams to reduce inflammation and itching. In more severe cases, a physician might prescribe stronger medications or recommend ultraviolet light therapy.

As with any health concern, it’s recommended to consult a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan based on individual needs.

Treatment of Discoid eczema

Discoid eczema, also known as nummular or discoid dermatitis, is a long-term (chronic) skin condition that causes skin to become itchy, swollen and cracked. The treatment for this condition often involves a combination of self-care techniques and medical treatments, which may include the following:

1. Emollients: These are moisturising treatments applied directly to the skin to reduce water loss and cover it with a protective layer. Emollients should be applied several times a day to keep the skin supple and moist.

2. Topical corticosteroids: If your skin is sore and inflamed, a GP may prescribe a topical corticosteroid, which is applied directly to your skin to reduce inflammation.

3. Topical calcineurin inhibitors: If topical corticosteroids are not effective, a medication called a topical calcineurin inhibitor may be used. They can reduce inflammation and prevent flare-ups.

4. Antihistamines: Antihistamines are a type of medicine that block the effects of a substance in the blood called histamine. They can help to ease the itching in some cases.

5. Antibiotics: If the skin becomes infected, antibiotics may be prescribed either in a cream (topical antibiotics) or as tablets (oral antibiotics).

6. Light therapy: In severe or persistent cases of discoid eczema, a treatment called phototherapy might be used.

7. Avoid triggers: If certain things trigger or worsen your discoid eczema (e.g., certain fabrics, soaps or weather conditions), try to avoid these triggers where possible.

It’s important to follow the treatment prescribed by the doctor to manage the symptoms. It should also be noted that what works for one person might not necessarily work for others, and it often requires some trial and error to find the best treatment plan by working with your provider. Additionally, maintaining a regular follow-up with your healthcare provider is crucial.

Medications commonly used for Discoid eczema

Discoid eczema, also known as nummular or discoid dermatitis, is a chronic condition that causes coin-shaped spots to develop on the skin. For treatment, several types of medication can be prescribed:

1. Topical Corticosteroids: These are creams and ointments that can help manage flare-ups of discoid eczema by reducing inflammation. They are available in different strengths and are usually applied once or twice a day.

2. Emollients: These are moisturizing treatments applied directly to the skin to reduce water loss and cover it with a protective film. They are often used to help manage dry or scaly skin conditions such as discoid eczema.

3. Topical Calcineurin Inhibitors: These include the medications tacrolimus and pimecrolimus. They are used to treat skin conditions like eczema. They work by suppressing the activity of the immune system and reducing inflammation and flare-ups.

4. Antihistamines: In certain cases, an oral antihistamine might be recommended to help reduce itching, especially at night.

5. Antibiotics: If the eczema becomes infected, which can occur from scratching, you may need antibiotics to treat the infection. These can either be topical application or oral, depending on the severity.

As with any medication, these should only be used under the guidance of a healthcare provider, and the frequency and duration of use should be strictly adhered to, to prevent side effects. If over-the-counter treatments aren’t effective, or if the eczema is severe or widespread, it may be necessary to be prescribed stronger medication by a healthcare provider.

Prevention of Discoid eczema

Discoid eczema, also known as nummular dermatitis, is a chronic dermatological disease that causes itchy, coin-shaped sores to develop on the skin. Though its exact cause is unknown, certain measures can be taken to reduce the risk and manage symptoms:

1. Good Skin Care: Maintaining good skin health is key. Regularly moisturizing the skin with creams or lotions can prevent dryness and cracking, particularly in colder weather when the skin tends to get drier.

2. Lifestyle Changes: Avoiding exposure to substances that your skin is sensitive to can prevent flare-ups of discoid eczema. Common irritants include soaps, detergents, and certain types of clothing, such as wool or synthetic fabrics.

3. Diet: Some people may find that certain foods exacerbate their eczema symptoms. Keeping a food diary might help to identify any potential suspects. It’s also essential to drink plenty of water to keep the skin hydrated.

4. Stress Management: Stress can often trigger eczema flare-ups. Regular exercise, meditation, and sufficient sleep can help manage stress levels.

5. Avoid Scratching: Scratching the affected areas can worsen the condition and potentially cause infection. Keeping nails short and using a cold compress to soothe itching may help.

6. Alcohol and Smoking: Substances in alcohol and tobacco can trigger eczema. Avoiding or quitting these habits can help in managing and preventing flare-ups.

7. Medical Treatment: If you have regular discoid eczema outbreaks, it’s essential to consult a doctor or dermatologist. They may prescribe topical creams or ointments, such as corticosteroids or calcineurin inhibitors, to reduce inflammation and itching.

Remember, every person’s experience with discoid eczema is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. It’s essential to work with a healthcare provider to create a personalized care plan.

FAQ’s about Discoid eczema

Discoid eczema, also known as nummular or discoid dermatitis, is a common form of eczema or dermatitis where the person has coin-shaped spots of eczema scattered over the body. Here are some frequently asked questions about Discoid Eczema:

1. What causes discoid eczema?
The exact cause is unknown, but it can be triggered by dry skin, minor skin injuries, insect bites, or certain systemic conditions. It’s not contagious so it cannot be transferred from person to person.

2. Who is most likely to get discoid eczema?
It can affect people of any age, including infants and children, but it tends to affect adults more. Men are more prone than women, and it typically occurs in adults between 55 and 65 years old.

3. What are the symptoms?
Symptoms include round or oval patches that appear most often on the lower legs, hands or forearms. The patches are often itchy and can weep fluid.

4. How is it diagnosed?
Doctors diagnose discoid eczema based on the appearance of the skin. A skin biopsy may be needed to confirm the diagnosis and to rule out other conditions.

5. How is discoid eczema treated?
It may be managed with a variety of treatments such as moisturizers to help lock in moisture, topical steroids to reduce inflammation and itching, and antihistamines to alleviate itching. In more severe cases, stronger medications that suppress the immune system may be needed.

6. Is discoid eczema chronic?
It could be. The condition can be chronic and may last for several weeks or even months. Some people may have flare-ups from time to time.

7. Can discoid eczema be cured?
While there is no cure as such, treatments are available to help manage the symptoms and prevent new patches from appearing.

8. How can discoid eczema be prevented?
Regular skin moisturizing, avoiding triggers, and paying attention to overall skin care can be helpful in preventing the condition.

Remember, it’s very important to consult a healthcare professional for accurate information and treatment options if you suspect you have discoid eczema.

Useful links

Discoid eczema, also known as nummular dermatitis, is a type of eczema that can cause round, disc-shaped spots to appear on the skin. These spots can be itchy, crusty, and very uncomfortable. It’s unclear what exactly causes discoid eczema, but it’s thought to be linked to dry skin and issues with the skin barrier.

Here are some useful links from journals regarding discoid eczema:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36057946/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34059241/

Remember to always consult a healthcare professional before starting any new treatment.

Complications of Discoid eczema

Discoid eczema, also known as nummular or discoid dermatitis, is a long-term skin condition that causes skin to become itchy, red, swollen and cracked. The complications of this condition can be both physical and psychological. Below are the potential complications of Discoid eczema:

1. Skin Infections: The main complication associated with discoid eczema is the risk of skin infection. The skin serves as a protective barrier against bacteria and other germs, but constant scratching can create openings, allowing bacteria to enter and spread, leading to a secondary infection.

2. Permanent Skin Changes: Over time, repeated outbreaks and scratching can cause the skin to become thickened and leathery, a condition known as lichenification. This can change the skin’s coloring as well, leading to hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation.

3. Sleep Disruption: The itching caused by discoid eczema can be severe and persistent, often leading to disrupted sleep. Lack of restful sleep can negatively impact mood, daily performance, and overall quality of life.


4. Psychological Impact: The visible nature of discoid eczema could affect a person’s self-esteem and cause feelings of embarrassment or self-consciousness. This can lead to anxiety, depression, or other psychological issues over time.

5. Eye Complications: If discoid eczema occurs on the face and near the eyes, it can lead to eye conditions such as cataracts, eye infections, and inflammation of the eyelids (blepharitis).

Remember that regular follow-ups with a dermatologist can help manage these complications effectively. Treatment often involves emollients, topical steroids, and in severe cases, immune suppressant medications.

Home remedies of Discoid eczema

Discoid eczema, also known as nummular or discoid dermatitis, is a long-term skin condition that causes skin to become itchy, reddened, swollen and cracked. Home remedies may help manage symptoms, though they’re not a substitute for professional medical treatment. Here are some possible remedies:

1. Moisturize regularly: Apply unscented moisturizers or emollients to keep the skin hydrated. This can reduce dryness, itching, and cracking.

2. Cold compress: Applying a cold, wet compress to the skin can help relieve itching and inflammation.

3. Use mild soap and skincare products: Fragrance-free and mild soaps or non-soap cleansers can prevent skin drying or irritation. Avoid skincare products that contain alcohol, fragrances, or other irritants.

4. Avoid scratching: Scratching can make the condition worse, potentially leading to infection. To help reduce scratching, keep fingernails short and smooth, consider wearing gloves at night, and use anti-itch creams or lotions recommended by a healthcare provider.

5. Bathe in lukewarm water: Hot water can dry out your skin, worsening eczema symptoms. Take shorter, lukewarm showers or baths instead, and pat the skin dry afterwards (don’t rub).

6. Use homemade or natural ointments: You can try ointments containing natural ingredients like coconut oil, honey, tea tree oil. However, do a patch test first as these can also cause allergies in some people.

7. Hydrate and diet: Drink plenty of water and maintain a healthy diet. Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids (like fish and walnuts) could potentially alleviate symptoms.

8. Reduce stress: Manage and reduce your stress levels through relaxation techniques, as stress can often trigger eczema or make it worse. Methods might include mindfulness, meditation, yoga, or simple walk, among other stress-relief activities.

Remember, while these remedies can potentially ease symptoms, they’re not guaranteed cures. Also, since discoid eczema can be confused with other skin conditions, it’s best to seek medical advice if you suspect you have this condition. Always consult a healthcare provider before starting any new treatment regimen, even with home remedies.

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Last Update: January 9, 2024