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Eczema types: Nummular eczema overview

What is nummular eczema?

Like other types of eczema, nummular eczema is very itchy. It causes itchy, raised, and round to oval spots on the skin that can grow together to form large, slightly raised patches.

Is nummular eczema contagious?

No. You cannot catch nummular eczema or give it to anyone.

This type of eczema tends to:

  • Develop on extremely dry skin

  • Appear after an injury like a cut, bug bite, or scrape

  • Be more common in people who already have one of these eczemas: atopic dermatitis, stasis dermatitis, or contact dermatitis

When caught early and treated properly, nummular eczema can heal within 3 to 4 weeks.

Nummular eczema

This type of eczema often causes round, itchy spots on the hands, forearms, or lower legs.

Two reddish round spots of nummular eczema on hand

Once you have had nummular eczema, it can return. It tends to appear in the same place. Usually, something triggers it. Common triggers include stress, extremely dry skin, certain medications, or a hypersensitivity to something that’s touching your skin.

If you continue to have flare-ups, seeing a dermatologist can help. If you have a hypersensitivity, a dermatologist may be able to pinpoint it. Avoiding your hypersensitivity along with using proper skin care can prevent new flare-ups.

It’s also possible that those round, itchy spots are due to another skin condition. Ringworm and psoriasis can look like nummular eczema. A dermatologist’s trained eye can see the subtle differences on a person’s skin.

For any condition you may have, proper treatment can help ease your discomfort and reduce flare-ups.

If you have nummular eczema, it’s important to know that this condition can cause more than itchy, round to oval spots on your skin. You’ll find other symptoms and several pictures of what it can look like at: Nummular eczema: Signs and symptoms.

Image used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.

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Choi S, Zhu GA, et al. “Research letters: Dupilumab treatment of nummular dermatitis: A retrospective cohort study.” J Am Acad Dermatol 2020;82(5):1252-5.

Jiamton S, Tangjaturonrusamee C, et al. “Clinical features and aggravating factors in nummular eczema in Thais.” Asian Pac J Allergy Immunol. 2013;31(1):36-42.

Krupa Shankar DS, Shrestha S. “Relevance of patch testing in patients with nummular dermatitis.” Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. 2005;71(6):406-8.

Leung AKC, Lam JM, et al. “Nummular eczema: An updated review.” Recent Pat Inflamm Allergy Drug Discov. 2020 Aug 10. [online ahead of print].

Lugović-Mihić L, Bukvić I, et al. “Factors contributing to the chronic urticaria/angioedema and nummular eczema resolution – Which factors are crucial?” Acta Clin Croat. 2019;58(4):595-603.

Miller JL, “Nummular dermatitis (nummular eczema).” In James WD [editor]. Medscape. Last updated November 2020.

Purnamawati S, Indrastuti N, et al. “The role of moisturizers in addressing various kinds of dermatitis: A review. Clin Med Res. 2017;15(3-4):75-87.

Reider N, Fritsch PO. “Other eczematour erupution.” In: Bolognia JL, et al. Dermatology. (fourth edition). Mosby Elsevier, China, 2018:233-4.

Trayes KP, Savage K, et al. “Annular lesions: Diagnosis and treatment. Am Fam Physician. 2018 Sep 1;98(5):283-91.

Written by:
Paula Ludmann, MS

Reviewed by:
Erin Ducharme, MD, FAAD
Amanda Friedrichs, MD, FAAD

Last updated: 3/15/21