Discoid Eczema

This is a form of eczema which causes redness, dryness and cracking or oozing, itching and blistered patches of skin. These patches are circular or oval in shape. Another term for discoid eczema (DE) is nummular eczema. Nummular refers to the coin shaped and discular means circular. Dry patches are not itchy but are cracked and scaly. If patches are left untreated the condition can last for weeks or even months. A scratching itching cycle begins when patients itch the wet patches. This causes much difficulty as it causes the skin to weep fluid, break bleed or become infected. Scratching at night time causes sleep problems.

DE usually forms on lower legs, forearms, torso but can appear anywhere on the body. Distinct patches range in millimetres to a few centimetres singular or several. Patches can be wet or dry. Skin between the patches appear quite normal. Wet patches often blister which burst and are very itchy and when dry out can become covered with crust.

This is very rare form of eczema in children are not usually affected. It is predominant in women in their twenties and men between 50-70. Women with DE often suffer from atopic eczema too.

Cause
No absolute cause is established, hoever, chronic stress can be a cause. Other suspected causes are allergens  e.g. soaps or there can be link to particular medications and the condition can be triggered by minor injuries, burns, insect bites.

Treatment
Topical steroid- antiseptic or steroid antibiotic combinations can effectively treat the symptoms.

Diagnosis is generally via clinical observation. Due to the specific appearance of the disease it is easily recognised by a GP. To confirm the diagnosis tests for fungal infection, bacterial infection and contact dermatitis are conducted.

Examination of flakes determine fungal infection. Simple swab tests can determine a bacterical infection. A patch test which tests the healthy areas of the skin are done for sensitivity to the battery of allergens.

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The prevalence of skin disease exceeds that of obesity, hypertension, or cancer. Despite skin being the largest organ of the human body, dermatological research remains one of the most under funded areas of medicine. In a world where society has an increasing preoccupation with image and it’s importance to every aspect of a person’s life, sufferers of skin diseases are feeling and being more marginalised and isolated than ever.

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