Eczema - different types

Atopic eczema

Also known as childhood eczema.

Atopic eczema is hereditary. If you have atopic eczema, your skin will be extra dry and delicate, and its resistance will be reduced. The eczema will develop when you are little and will generally appear at the back of your knee or in the crook of your arm. It is usually bilateral and very itchy. If you've had this type of eczema, there is a greater risk that you will develop asthma and hay fever later in life. You will also be three times as likely to develop hand eczema as an adult.

Hand eczema

Hand eczema normally develops because the skin has been irritated by too much wet work. It may also result from a lot of contact with allergens, such as detergents or nickel. You may also have it because you've had atopic eczema in the past (see above).

Twice as many women as men develop hand eczema. It is often chronic, which means that it does not go away. Anyone who develops hand eczema because of their work may be forced to take sick leave, change their workplace or perhaps train for a completely different job. Some jobs are particularly risky in this respect, such as hairdresser, cleaner, kitchen and restaurant staff, and healthcare worker.

Contact eczema

Contact eczema means that you develop eczema as a result of certain substances coming into contact with your skin. Contact eczema is commonly caused by exposure to irritant substances like wet work, soap and dirt, and/or exposure to environmental substances that casuses allergic reactions:


You can develop an allergy to nickel if you wear things that contain nickel directly against your skin for long periods of time, such as jewellery, watches, glasses, buttons and buckles. The allergy can also be triggered when you have your ears or any other part of your body pierced. Some people develop nickel allergies because they work frequently with tools, scissors, keys, coins and other things that contain nickel.

Many people who are allergic to nickel end up developing hand eczema. It can then become difficult to carry out their normal duties as a hairdresser or in a restaurant, for example.


Contact allergy to perfume is a problem that is increasing among both women and men. Perfumes are used in make-up, skin creams, soap, shampoo, toothpaste and detergents, for example. Not only can you develop eczema from the perfume, but asthma sufferers can also develop problems with their airways.


Preservatives are some of the strongest allergens and are found in cosmetics, liquid soap, paint and so on.

What can i do to protect myself?

The following will give you some ideas on how to prevent and alleviate eczema.

» Read more

» Back to the first page on eczema