What is nummular eczema?
Nummular eczema, also known as discoid eczema or dermatitis, is a relatively common type of eczema that develops in a distinctive circular pattern. (Nummular means ‘coin-shaped’, which makes sense!)
It tends to start off as tiny little bumps, blisters or spots, which then expand outwards into circular or oval patches of dry, inflamed and often intensely itchy skin. It can develop anywhere on the body, though not often on the face or scalp, and particularly affects people in middle-age.
Nummular eczema isn’t infectious or caused by an infection, although it can look very much like the fungal infection ringworm, which develops in similar rings, and, like other forms of eczema, it can get infected.
What causes nummular eczema?
Unfortunately it’s not entirely clear what causes nummular eczema; some people are more prone to it than others, and tend to have recurrent flares of the condition, but unlike other kinds of eczema it doesn’t seem to run in families. But while the root cause is mysterious, there are certainly some factors that tend to trigger a flare up of the condition. Although everyone is different, and reacts differently to triggers, it’s worth having a look down the list of possible culprits to see what might be setting off your nummular eczema.
If your skin is naturally dry, then you’re slightly more likely to get nummular eczema. This is very likely down to dry skin having an impaired skin barrier function, which allows irritants in through the skin, and then sets off an inflammatory response.
TIP: keep your skin well moisturised with a rich, scent-free emollient, like Balmonds Skin Salvation. Top up your skin’s moisture levels throughout the day for maximum effectiveness.
There are many substances in your everyday life that could trigger an eczema flare! These include ingredients in your toiletries, your cosmetics, shampoo, showergel, and hand wash, as well as household cleaning products, laundry detergents or washing-up liquid.
TIP: switch to hypoallergenic, scent-free, sulphate-free alternatives.
Injury to the skin
Nummular eczema can be triggered by a minor trauma to the skin, such as insect bites, surgery, scratches or grazes, and burns.
TIP: be extra careful to protect your skin from bites and burns!
Nummular eczema sometimes develops during a course of medication, particularly those used to treat arthritis, high cholesterol and Hepatitis C.
TIP: make sure your doctor and pharmacist know you’re susceptible to nummular eczema.
Cold, dry, windy weather or living environments can set off your eczema.
TIP: wrap up warm, protect your skin with balm before going out into the cold or win, and control the temperature and humidity in your home or workplace. You could try using a humidifier if you’re finding being at home is drying out your skin.
As is the case with other types of eczema, your mental health can play a part in how frequent and severe your nummular eczema can be.
TIP: take your well-being seriously, and make time for whichever stress-managing technique works for you! It could be meditation, exercise, walking or crafting.
If your nummular eczema is on the legs, it could be aggravated by poor blood flow.
TIP: it’s important to get circulation going, but can be very hard if there are other health problems to consider. Healthcare professionals can help with support stockings and exercises to get the feet and legs moving.
Managing a flare-up of discoid eczema at home
We’d recommend looking after your skin with natural emollients, keeping it moisturised, nourished and resilient so that any trigger is less likely to set off a flare of discoid eczema. If it’s really itchy, sore or cracked, try Skin Salvation balm, which is less likely to sting on open skin, and can help support the regeneration of a healthy skin barrier. For daily maintenance, use our shea butter and hemp Daily Moisturising Cream, and try countering the dehydrating effects of bathing with some Bath & Body Oil.
If symptoms don’t improve after a week, or get worse, consult your doctor; there are various other options you can try: antihistamines to help ease the itchiness, antibiotics (if the eczema is infected) or a short course of topical steroids if the inflammation is not calming down.
Balmonds Skin Salvation
with hemp and beeswax
Bath & Body Oil
with lavender, hemp and olive
Balmonds Daily Moisturising Cream
with shea butter and calendula
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.