Nummular Dermatitis

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Images of Dermatitis, Nummular


Nummular dermatitis is a particular form of eczema (atopic dermatitis) characterized by coin-shaped, raised areas on the skin that are scaly.

  • The cause of nummular dermatitis is not known, but it is associated with triggers such as frequent bathing, irritating and drying soaps, and exposure to irritating fabrics such as wool.
  • Those with nummular dermatitis often have some of the signs and symptoms typically associated with eczema.
  • Nummular dermatitis is itchy (pruritic), but it is less itchy than other common diagnoses with scaly plaques, such as psoriasis.
  • Winter is usually the time of onset and severity.
  • Nummular dermatitis can be chronic, and symptoms can go away and recur indefinitely.

Who's at risk?

Nummular dermatitis may affect people of all ages.

Signs and Symptoms

Nummular dermatitis is most commonly found on the trunk and/or extremities. Round or coin-shaped, pink to red, scaly, raised areas are seen, often with small cracks or superficial breaks in the skin located within.

Self-Care Guidelines

Maintaining healthy skin is very important for sufferers of nummular dermatitis.

  • Moisturizing skin-care routines are essential.
  • Non-soap cleansers, such as Cetaphil®, or moisturizing soaps, such as Dove®, are recommended.
  • Thick moisturizers such as petroleum jelly, Aquaphor® ointment, Eucerin® cream, CeraVe™ cream, and Cetaphil® cream should be applied to damp skin daily after bathing.
  • Attempt to minimize exposure to heat, humidity, detergents/soaps, abrasive clothing, chemicals, smoke, and stress.
  • Fragrance-free laundry detergent may be beneficial.
  • Keep the home humid with a humidifier or setting out bowls of water, especially in the bedroom.

When to Seek Medical Care

You should seek medical care if there is a lack of response to self-care measures or the condition worsens or flares.

Treatments Your Physician May Prescribe

Your physician may:

  • Prescribe medium- to high-potency topical steroids to apply to the affected areas twice daily.
  • Recommend light therapy with ultraviolet B for extensive disease.
  • Prescribe oral antihistamines to help relieve itching.
  • Prescribe oral or topical antibiotics if the area becomes infected.

Trusted Links

MedlinePlus: EczemaClinical Information and Differential Diagnosis of Dermatitis, Nummular


Bolognia, Jean L., ed. Dermatology, pp.218-223. New York: Mosby, 2003.

Freedberg, Irwin M., ed. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 6th ed, pp.1194-1196. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003.