Eczema (discoid) 



Atopic eczema is the most common type of eczema, affecting around one in 12 adults and one in five children in the UK. In this video, Dr Dawn Harper talks about living with the condition.

Media last reviewed: 10/01/2013

Next review due: 10/01/2015

Types of eczema

Discoid dermatitis is a type of eczema. Eczema is the name for a group of skin conditions that cause dry, itchy scaly skin. There are several other types of eczema, including:

  • atopic eczema (also called atopic dermatitis) – this 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 occurs on the legs, usually around varicose veins (swollen and enlarged veins)

Discoid eczema is a long-term skin condition that causes skin to become itchy, reddened, dry and cracked.

It's also known as nummular eczema.

It can affect any part of the body, but is usually seen on the:

  • lower legs
  • forearms
  • trunk (chest, tummy and back)

People with discoid eczema have circular or oval patches of eczema with well-defined edges. These can be a few millimetres to a few centimetres in size.

Read more about the symptoms of 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 develop in adults and is rare in children. It is more common among men aged from 50 to 70 and women in their teens or twenties. When discoid eczema occurs in young women, they often have atopic eczema as well.

Read more information about the causes of discoid eczema.

Treating discoid eczema

See your GP or pharmacist if you notice the symptoms of discoid eczema. If it is not treated it can last for months or even years. Even after treatment the condition may return, often with patches in the same places as before.

There are a number of different treatments available, such as emollients (moisturisers applied to the skin to reduce the loss of water from the skin) and topical corticosteroids (creams containing steriod medication).

There are also things you can do yourself to help. For example, avoid irritating chemicals in some soaps and detergents, and using a moisturiser. Additional medication can be prescribed if your eczema is infected or particularly severe.

With the correct treatment, you can keep discoid eczema under good control.

Read more about how discoid eczema is treated.

Page last reviewed: 18/10/2012

Next review due: 18/10/2014


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The 1 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

lewischopper said on 19 August 2014

I have had a rash on my face , back, armpits , chest for approx. 6 years, i was being prescribed bentnovate lotion for years which kept it at bay. Now the doctor has stopped my script saying i shouldn't have been taking it for so long, as its a steroid. ive tried umpteen lotions/creams nothing has worked yet. its making my life miserable as most days i want to scratch my skin so hard. wish i knew what to do

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