Symptoms of discoid eczema 

Discoid eczema causes distinctive circular or oval patches of eczema.

The patches can appear anywhere on the body, including the:

  • lower legs
  • forearms
  • trunk (torso)
  • hands
  • feet

The face and scalp are not normally affected.

The first sign of discoid eczema is usually a group of small red spots or bumps on the skin. These then quickly join up to form larger pink, red or brown patches that can range from a few millimetres to several centimetres in size.

Initially, these patches are often swollen, blistered (covered with small fluid-filled pockets) and ooze fluid. They also tend to be very itchy, particularly at night.

Over time, the patches may become dry, crusty, cracked and flaky. The centre of the patch also sometimes clears, leaving a ring of discoloured skin that can be mistaken for ringworm.

You may just have one patch of discoid eczema, but most people have several patches. The skin between the patches is often dry.

Patches of discoid eczema can last for weeks, months or even years if not treated, and they can keeping recurring – often in the same area that was affected previously.

Occasionally, areas of skin affected by discoid eczema can be left permanently discoloured after the condition has cleared up.

Signs of an infection

Patches of discoid eczema can sometimes become infected. Signs of an infection can include:

  • the patches oozing a lot of fluid
  • a yellow crust developing over the patches
  • the skin around the patches becoming red, hot, swollen, and tender or painful
  • feeling sick
  • chills
  • a general sense of feeling unwell

When to seek medical advice

You should see your GP or pharmacist if you think you may have discoid eczema, as the condition can take a long time to improve without treatment and it may keep recurring.

You should also seek medical advice if you think your skin may be infected, as you may need to use antibiotic cream or, in very severe cases, take antibiotics tablets.

Read more about diagnosing discoid eczema.




Page last reviewed: 22/10/2014

Next review due: 22/10/2016