Different kinds of eczema

There actually are a bunch of different kinds of eczema, and they all have fancy names.  When kids get eczema, they usually have either atopic dermatitis or contact dermatitis.

Atopic dermatitis

When people talk about eczema, they usually mean atopic dermatitis. Atopic is a word that means your body, and in this case your skin, overreacts to something. 

Some things to know about atopic dermatitis:

  • A lot of kids have it. In fact, as many as one in 10 kids has atopic dermatitis. Some say it's more like one in five! And it's way more common than it was when your grandparents were kids.
  • It's more common in kids with asthma and allergies. Half of all kids who have eczema also have asthma, a disease that can make it hard to breathe. And two-thirds of kids with eczema get something called hay fever, which is when something makes you sneeze a lot and get watery eyes and an itchy nose. Some kids even have eczema, asthma, and hay fever!
  • It comes and goes. This can happen a lot and you might not ever really figure out why.

If your parents want to know about this type of eczema, they can visit the Dermatology A to Z page: Atopic dermatitis.

Contact dermatitis

If you have contact dermatitis, it means that things you touch – or that touch you – can irritate your skin. A lot of things can touch your skin and make it itchy. There are two reasons.

Your skin gets annoyed or irritated.  Common things that annoy your skin are:

  • Soaps.
  • Detergents.
  • Cleaners.
  • Paints.
  • Even water!

You might have an allergy. An allergy is when your immune system tries to protect you from normal things that aren't hurting you. Many things can trigger an allergy and it might be hard to figure out what they are. So far, doctors have found more than 3,000 things that can cause allergic contact dermatitis. Some common ones are:

  • Leather, glue, or rubber in your shoes.
  • Concrete.
  • Perfumes, even in hair and skin products.
  • Some medicines.
  • Nickel, a metal that is in a lot of jewelry.
  • Foods such as tomatoes, chocolates, nuts and soy.
  • Poison ivy and other plants such as poison sumac and poison oak.

Anyone can get contact dermatitis, but it's more common in kids who have atopic dermatitis.

Next: Stop itchy skin before it starts.