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Nummular eczema

Definition

Nummular eczema is an allergy disorder in which itchy, coin-shaped spots or patches appear on the skin.

Alternative Names

Eczema - discoid; Nummular dermatitis

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The cause of nummular eczema is unknown. But there usually is a personal or family history of:

Things that can make the condition worse, include:

  • Dry skin
  • Environmental irritants
  • Stress
  • Temperature changes

Symptoms

Signs and tests

Your doctor can usually diagnose this condition by looking at your skin and asking about your family's medical history.

A skin biopsy may be needed to rule out other similar conditions.

Treatment

Avoid triggers that can make your symptoms worse, such as wool, lanolin, and certain foods. Do not take frequent baths. Excess bathing and soap can cause dry skin, which often makes the condition worse. Also, avoid hot water while taking a bath or shower.

Your doctor may recommend skin lotion, special soap, or moist bandages to soothe scaly, dry, or healing areas. Antihistamines may be prescribed to relieve itching.

Persons with severe symptoms may be prescribed ointments that contain tar, corticosteroids, or other medicines that lower the immune system. In very severe cases, more powerful corticosteroids are prescribed..

Expectations (prognosis)

Nummular eczema is a long-term (chronic) condition. Medical treatment and avoiding irritants can help reduce symptoms.

Complications

A secondary infection of the skin may develop.

Calling your health care provider

Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of this condition.

Also call for an appointment with your health care provider if:

  • Symptoms continue despite treatment
  • You have signs of infection (such as fever, redness, or pain)

Prevention

There is no known way to prevent the disorder. Avoid any triggers that make your symptoms worse.

References

Habif TP. Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier Mosby; 2009:chap 3.

Reider N, Fritsch PO. Other eczematous eruptions. In: Bolognia JL, Jorizzo JL, Schaffer JV, eds. Dermatology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 13.


Review Date: 5/15/2013
Reviewed By: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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