Introduction 

Discoid eczema is a long-term skin condition that causes skin to become itchy, reddened, swollen and cracked in circular or oval patches.

It's also known as discoid dermatitis.

The patches can be a few millimetres to a few centimetres in size and can affect any part of the body, although they don't usually affect the face or scalp.

The patches are often swollen, blistered (covered with small fluid-filled pockets) and ooze fluid at first, but become dry, crusty, cracked and flaky over time.

The patches may clear up on their own eventually, but this can take weeks, months or even years if not treated, and they can recur.

Read more about the symptoms of discoid eczema.

Seeking medical advice

You should see your pharmacist or GP if you think you may have discoid eczema.

They will usually want to examine the affected areas of skin and can recommend suitable treatments.

Read more about diagnosing discoid eczema.

What causes discoid eczema?

The cause of discoid eczema is unknown, although it is often accompanied by dry skin and is thought to be triggered by irritation of the skin.

Discoid eczema tends to affect adults and is rare in children. It is more common among men aged from 50 to 70 and women in their teens or twenties.

Some people with discoid eczema may also have other types of eczema, such as atopic eczema.

Read more about the causes of discoid eczema.

How discoid eczema is treated

Discoid eczema is usually a long-term problem, but medications are available to help relieve the symptoms and keep the condition under control.

Treatments used include:

  • emollients – moisturisers applied to the skin to stop it becoming dry
  • topical corticosteroids – ointments and creams applied to the skin that can help relieve severe symptoms
  • antihistamines – medications that can reduce itching and help you sleep better

There are also things you can do yourself to help, such as avoiding all the irritating chemicals in soaps, detergents, bubble baths and shower gels.

Additional medication can be prescribed if your eczema is infected or particularly severe.

Read more about treating discoid eczema.




Other types of eczema

Eczema is the name for a group of skin conditions that cause dry, irritated skin. Other types of eczema include:

  • atopic eczema (also called atopic dermatitis) – the most common type of eczema, it often runs in families and is linked to other conditions such as asthma and hay fever
  • contact dermatitis – a type of eczema that occurs when the body comes into contact with a particular substance
  • varicose eczema – a type of eczema that most often affects the lower legs and is caused by problems with the flow of blood through the leg veins

Page last reviewed: 22/10/2014

Next review due: 22/10/2016