Nummular Dermatitis

What is nummular dermatitis?

Also known as nummular eczema, this condition is characterized by the development of multiple coin-shaped, scaly patches that are intensely itchy on the arms, legs, hands, feet, and sometimes mid torso. Often times this condition can be mistaken for ringworm or psoriasis, among others. Although no exact cause has been determined for this condition, it has been noted that dryness of the skin, use of irritating soaps, skin trauma, or wearing irritating fabrics as wool can precipitate flares. Patients with a known history of atopic dermatitis or chronic leg swelling are also at risk for developing nummular dermatitis.

Nummular Dermatitis

How is this condition treated?

Unfortunately, the condition is chronic and patients will often have repeated flares throughout their lifetime. Therefore, implementing a gentle skin care regimen as a baseline is imperative to prevent flares.

  • Daily Skin Care Regimen
    • Keep showers short and use lukewarm water when bathing.
    • Avoid using soap over the affected areas and instead use soapless cleansers as Cetaphil or Cerave.
    • Moisturize skin daily by either applying thick emollients as Aquaphor or Vaseline or creams as Vanicream, Cetaphil, or Cerave twice daily to the skin and especially while the skin is damp after a shower or bath.
    • Wear loose-fitting clothing and avoid fabrics as wool that can irritate the skin.
    • Place a humidifier in the bedroom.
  • Medications
    • Your physician will prescribe you a moderate to high potency steroid to apply twice daily to the affected areas to calm the inflammation and itching. Often times patients will need to re-use the steroids with subsequent flares.
    • Your physician may also consider other therapies as antihistamines for control of itching, coal tar, or ultraviolet light phototherapy depending on your response and severity of condition.