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Nummular Eczema

The coin-shaped itchy patches appear on groin, rectal area, and arms.  It is called nummular from its coin-shaped appearance. Nummular eczema is relatively rare and usually affects elderly men.  The cause in unknown, but it is associated with a history of asthma, or skin diseases.  The condition becomes worse when the skin is very dry, and exposed to temperature changes and environmental irritants.  Stress can also worsen the condition.  The condition is chronic as there is no cure for it.  Medical treatment or avoiding the trigger can control the skin disease.    

Nummular eczema has other names:  Nummular eczematous dermatitis, and discoid eczema.  Discoid eczema occurs in all age groups but is more prevalent in older men.  It also develops on normal skin as well as dry skin.  It is also associated atopic eczema.   The skin disease appears on the arms and legs, and ooze and become crusty.  It generally spreads to the middle of the body.  The scaly skin disease becomes inflamed and infected when scratched.  On the skin it appears to have defined edges.  It appears red, with small blisters, crusts.  To the touch it is scaly.  The appearance and texture of the skin affected with discoid eczema reflect the presence of bacteria.

In treating nummular eczema the doctor will recommend mild soaps, soothing skin emoluments, and the application of damp dressing to soothe the scaly skin.  To rule out other causes, the doctor will require a skin biopsy to determine the cause of the skin disease.   People afflicted with the skin disease will be advised against frequent bathing because the soap and excess bathing will further dry the skin and worsen the condition.

Because of its scaly appearance and well-defined edges, the skin disease is usually confused for ringworms and other contact eczema.  The condition is prevalent during winter months when the skin tends to be dry.

Nummular eczema and discoid eczema affected patients with severe symptoms will be given skin creams and ointments that contain skin softeners, moisturizers, tar, and corticosteroids.  Rarely does the doctor introduce powerful corticosteroids to be taken orally or injected.  Ultraviolet light treatments are given when the itch is severe and persistent. If you have this condition, you have to keep your skin well-lubricated with soft lotions.  Bath with lukewarm water.  Hot showers tend to make the skin drier.  After a bath, towel pat dry.  Never rub the affected area.  In the choice of laundry soap select those that are dye-free, and fragrance- free.

Contact with wool and drinking too much alcohol will cause the nummular eczema to itch, worsening the situation.  Wear 100% cotton clothing and underwear. If you live in a cold climate, have a humidifier to the right temperature.  Stay away from strong chemicals like gasoline, petrol, and fertilizers.  If left untreated, secondary skin infections may set in.  Since there is no definite cure, it is best to avoid the irritants and follow the doctor’s prescription strictly. When the condition remains persistent despite medication, and when there is fever, seek medical attention at once.