Different types of eczema, including atopic dermatitis and contact dermatitis, may have different symptoms. Treatment can depend on the cause.

Eczema is a chronic condition that may cause dry, itchy, scaly, and painful skin lesions or blisters.

It’s sometimes called atopic dermatitis, which is the most common form of eczema, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD).

However, eczema refers to a group of seven different types of inflammatory skin conditions.

Keep reading to learn more about the causes, symptoms, and treatments for each type of eczema.

Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema.

It usually starts in childhood between ages 2 months and 5 years and typically gets milder or goes away by adulthood. However, it’s possible to have a flareup of symptoms or to experience symptoms for the first time later in life.


In atopic dermatitis, symptoms typically appear on your arms or in the creases of your elbows or knees. Children may develop symptoms on their scalp and cheeks.

It’s important not to scratch any bumps, rashes, or lesions, as this may lead to infection.


The exact cause of atopic dermatitis is unknown.

However, the condition happens when your skin’s natural barrier is weakened. This means your skin is less able to protect you from irritants and allergens.

Atopic dermatitis is likely caused by a combination of factors, such as:

Contact dermatitis results from a reaction to substances you touch. There are two types:

  • Allergic contact dermatitis: This is an immune system reaction to an irritant, like latex or metal.
  • Irritant contact dermatitis: This starts when a chemical or other substance directly damages your skin.


Symptoms of contact dermatitis may take up to 48 hours to appear after coming into contact with a trigger.

In contact dermatitis, you may experience:


Contact dermatitis happens when you touch a substance that irritates your skin or causes an allergic reaction. The most common irritants include:

  • detergents
  • bleach
  • jewelry
  • latex
  • nickel
  • paint
  • poison ivy and other poisonous plants
  • skin care products, including makeup
  • soaps and perfumes
  • solvents
  • tobacco smoke

Dyshidrotic eczema, also known as pompholyx, causes small blisters to form on your hands and feet.


Symptoms of dyshidrotic eczema may last between 2–3 weeks at a time. You may experience fluid-filled blisters that could itch, hurt, crack, and flake. These may appear on your:

  • fingers
  • toes
  • palms
  • soles of the feet


Dyshidrotic eczema can be caused by:

  • allergies
  • damp hands and feet
  • exposure to substances such as nickel, cobalt, or chromium salt
  • stress
  • smoking tobacco products

Seborrheic dermatitis is sometimes referred to as scalp eczema because it typically affects your scalp.

Seborrheic dermatitis in infants is commonly called cradle cap, and it does not reappear later. In teens and adults, however, seborrheic dermatitis will most likely be an ongoing skin issue.


Seborrheic dermatitis may cause scaly, oily patches of skin that produce dandruff-like flakes. These patches often appear where there are more sebaceous glands on the body, such as the:

  • scalp
  • hairline
  • upper back
  • nose
  • groin

In people with darker skin tones, these patches may be darker than their skin, but in people with lighter skin tones, the patches may be lighter.


Seborrheic dermatitis may be due to a combination of environmental and genetic factors.

First, a trigger like stress or illness sets off an inflammatory reaction in the skin. This sends the oil-producing glands in the body into overdrive, which allows too much Malassezia yeast to grow. This is an organism that lives on the skin’s surface.

When yeast grows too rapidly, the immune system reacts and causes a series of skin changes. This leads to the development of the patches of skin common with seborrheic dermatitis.

Aside from stress and illness, other triggers of seborrheic dermatitis may include:

Neurodermatitis, also referred to as lichen simplex chronicus, is a type of eczema that usually causes 1–2 eczema patches to develop. It involves intense itching that worsens the more you scratch.


Neurodermatitis causes thick, scaly, and sometimes very itchy patches to form on your:

  • arms
  • legs
  • back of your neck
  • scalp
  • bottoms of your feet
  • backs of your hands
  • genitals

It’s important not to scratch the skin patches. This may worsen your symptoms and lead to bleeding and infection.


The underlying cause of neurodermatitis isn’t yet known. However, the condition usually starts with an itch, and the rash develops the more you scratch it, according to the AAD.

Nummular eczema, also known as discoid eczema, causes round, coin-shaped spots to form on your skin. It looks different than other types of eczema and could be very itchy.


Symptoms of nummular eczema may last up to several years without treatment.

The first sign of nummular eczema is usually a group of small bumps on the skin. These may appear red or pink on lighter skin tones and dark brown on darker skin tones.

These small bumps then usually grow coin-shaped skin lesions that may be itchy, flaky, or cracked.


The exact cause of nummular eczema is not known. However, it may result from having very dry skin.

You’re also more likely to develop nummular eczema if you have another type of eczema, such as atopic dermatitis.

Stasis dermatitis is more common in people who have poor circulation, according to the AAD. It happens when fluid leaks out of weakened veins into your skin.

This fluid may cause:

  • swelling
  • redness in lighter skin tones
  • brown, purple, gray, or ashen color in darker skin tones
  • itching
  • pain


Symptoms of stasis dermatitis are most likely to affect your legs and ankles. For example, the lower part of your legs may swell, especially during the day when you’ve been walking. Your legs may also ache or feel heavy.

Other symptoms of stasis dermatitis may include:


Stasis dermatitis happens in people who have blood flow problems in their lower legs. If the valves that normally push blood up through your legs toward your heart malfunction, blood can pool in your legs.

Speak with a healthcare professional if your eczema symptoms don’t go away or interfere with your life.

There’s no official test to diagnose eczema. However, a doctor will look at your medical history and carry out a physical examination of your symptoms.

A doctor may also order a skin patch test to identify any allergens that may cause symptom flare-ups.

If you need help finding a dermatologist, check out our FindCare tool here.

Treatment for eczema will depend on several factors, such as:

  • type of eczema
  • severity of symptoms
  • your general health condition

Your treatment plan may include a combination of lifestyle changes and medications. It will also usually require a trial-and-error approach to see what works best for you.

Some treatments for eczema may include:

Several eczema prevention methods may also help you avoid flare-ups.

What are the 7 different types of eczema?

The seven different types of eczema include atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema, neurodermatitis, nummular eczema, and stasis dermatitis.

What is a rare type of eczema?

Some rare types of eczema include dyshidrotic eczema, neurodermatitis, and nummular eczema.

What’s the difference between eczema and dermatitis?

The difference between eczema and dermatitis is that eczema refers to a group of skin conditions, while dermatitis refers to inflammation of the skin. Dermatitis may be a symptom of some types of eczema. However, eczema usually also causes other symptoms, such as dry, itchy, and cracked skin lesions.

What triggers eczema?

Several different things may trigger eczema, such as environmental irritants, allergens, and pollutants, stress, certain foods and drinks, smoking, some medications, and certain medical conditions.

Eczema is a chronic skin condition that may cause itchy, scaly patches to form.

Although it’s often referred to as atopic dermatitis, eczema refers to a group of skin conditions.

Speak with a healthcare professional if your symptoms don’t improve after trying at-home remedies. They could help develop a treatment plan that’s right for you.