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Nummular Dermatitis Overview
Nummular dermatitis is inflammation that appears as coin-shaped, raised areas on the skin that are scaly and itchy.
- The cause of nummular dermatitis is not fully understood, but it is commonly associated with triggers such as frequent bathing, using irritating and drying soaps, dry weather, and exposure to irritating fabrics such as wool.
- Individuals with nummular dermatitis often have a history of eczema (atopic dermatitis).
- The rash of nummular dermatitis can be chronic; the rash may clear up and then recur.
Who's At Risk?
Nummular dermatitis can affect people of any age, but it is most common at ages 50-65 years and at 15-25 years. It is more common in men than women.
Signs & Symptoms
Nummular dermatitis is most commonly found on the trunk of the body and/or the arms or legs. Round or coin-shaped, scaly plaques (raised areas larger than a thumbnail) are seen, often with small cracks in the skin. The plaques appear red in lighter skin colors; in darker skin colors, the redness may be harder to see or may appear more purple or gray.
Maintaining healthy skin is very important for people with nummular dermatitis.
- Moisturizing skin-care routines are essential.
- Use mild, nonsoap cleansers such as Cetaphil or Dove Unscented Beauty Bar.
- Take short (5 minutes or less) lukewarm baths or showers.
- Apply a thick moisturizer such as petroleum jelly (eg, Vaseline), Aquaphor ointment, Eucerin cream, CeraVe cream, or Cetaphil cream at least twice daily. Apply after bathing while the skin is still damp.
- Try to minimize exposure to heat, humidity, detergents, soaps, abrasive clothing, chemicals, smoke, and stress.
- Fragrance-free laundry detergent (eg, All Free and Clear) may be beneficial.
- Keep the home humid with a humidifier, especially in the bedroom.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing and avoid irritating fabrics (eg, wool).
- Over-the-counter 1% hydrocortisone cream or ointment can help relieve itch in mild cases.
Your medical professional may:
- Prescribe topical steroids to apply to the affected areas.
- Prescribe an oral antihistamine to help relieve itching.
- Recommend light therapy with ultraviolet B for widespread disease.
- Prescribe oral or topical antibiotics if the area becomes infected.
You should seek medical care if there is a lack of response to self-care measures or if the condition worsens or flares.
Bolognia J, Schaffer JV, Cerroni L. Dermatology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018.
James WD, Elston D, Treat JR, Rosenbach MA. Andrew’s Diseases of the Skin. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019.
Kang S, Amagai M, Bruckner AL, et al. Fitzpatrick’s Dermatology. 9th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education; 2019.
Paller A, Mancini A. Paller and Mancini: Hurwitz Clinical Pediatric Dermatology. 6th ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2022.
Last modified on September 28th, 2023 at 8:23 pm
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