What You Should Know About Scrotal Eczema
Scrotum Skin Disease (SED) is a common condition affecting approximately 50% of all males. SED causes itching, burning sensations, redness and swelling of the scrotum skin. The symptoms are usually mild at first but may progress to severe with prolonged exposure to the itchiness or pain. Most affected individuals do not seek medical attention because they believe it will worsen their condition and cause them discomfort.
The majority of cases occur in young adults between the ages of 15 and 35 years. Approximately 40% of these individuals have no known risk factors for developing SED.
Scrotal eczema is caused by abnormal immune responses to substances found on the skin’s surface called allergens. These allergens include bacteria, viruses, fungi and other organisms that cause allergic reactions when exposed to certain chemicals or environmental irritants such as sunlight or sweat from the body.
In some cases, SED is associated with a genetic predisposition to develop it. However, most cases are due to environmental triggers such as stress, poor hygiene practices or even contact with animals.
There are several types of scrotal eczema:
1. Cutaneous Eczema – This type of scrotal eczema develops on the skin’s surface and affects the scrotum only.
It does not affect the testicles or genitals.
2. Vesiculobullous Eczema – This is a type of eczema that first appears as vesicles (small fluid-filled blisters) and later become fluid-filled bullae (large blister).
These blisters can cause intense burning and painful sensations.
3. Folliculitis – This type of scrotal eczema develops in hair follicles (tiny holes where the hairs develop).
This type of eczema can be itchy and painful when the skin is rubbed against clothing.
4. Intertrigo – This form of scrotal eczema develops in skin folds.
The affected areas become red and may ooze fluid. It can also cause tiny rashes to develop on the surrounding skin.
5. Irritant Eczema – This type of eczema is usually triggered by certain chemicals or topical medications.
It mostly affects the scrotum, genitals and inner thighs.
6. Nummular Eczema – This type of scrotal eczema causes coin-shaped rashes to develop on the skin.
These itchy spots can be painful or irritated when touched.
7. Seborrheic Eczema – This type of scrotal eczema affects the skin and the oil glands (sebaceous glands).
It causes dry, red skin covered with a thick, greasy layer. Fungal infections can also develop in the affected skin.
Treating scrotal eczema involves avoiding known or potential irritants and using proper personal hygiene to prevent symptoms from recurring. In some cases, symptoms may disappear without treatment.
However, if severe symptoms continue to develop or if they become unbearable despite avoidance of irritants, your physician will recommend the following treatment options:
1. Medications – Your physician may prescribe topical steroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
The most common medication is topical hydrocortisone. Your doctor may also recommend an ointment with an antibiotic to fight any fungal or bacterial infections in the skin.
2. Skin grafts – This procedure removes the affected skin and tissues from the scrotum and testicles and replaces them with skin from another part of the body.
Skin grafts can only be used if the skin on other parts of the body is healthy.
3. Surgery – In some cases, your physician may recommend surgery to remove damaged areas of skin.
This operation is called a scrotoplasty. A scrotoplasty can increase the surface area of the scrotum and improve drainage of the testicles if they are affected. This surgery does not increase the size of the testicles themselves.
4. Immunotherapy – In some cases, your physician may recommend immunotherapy to desensitize you to a known allergen or irritant.
This treatment involves receiving small, but gradually increasing, quantities of the allergen or irritant over an extended period of time.
5. Dietary supplements – Your physician may recommend a set of dietary supplements to be taken daily.
These supplements may include Zinc, Vitamin D, and Omega-3 Fatty Acids to increase scrotal health.
Surgical treatment options will depend on the type of scrotal eczema you have:
1. Seborrheic Eczema
Some men with seborrheic eczema also develop fungal or bacterial infections in the skin. Your physician may treat fungal infections with a combination of topical antifungal creams (such as clotrimazole) and antifungal medication that you swallow.
In addition, your physician may prescribe an antibiotic to combat any bacterial infection in the skin. Your physician may also recommend a mild steroid cream to reduce swelling and itching.
2. Nummular Eczema
If you have nummular eczema, your physician may prescribe a combination of topical steroids and antifungal creams. Your physician may also recommend an ointment with an antibiotic to fight any fungal or bacterial infection in the skin.
3. Atopic Eczema
Atopic eczema requires more extensive treatment, as the skin is very itchy and tends to become easily infected. Your physician may prescribe a combination of topical steroids and antifungal creams.
In addition, your physician may recommend an ointment with an antibiotic to fight any fungal or bacterial infection in the skin. Your physician may also prescribe an immunotherapy agent, such as Hydrocortisone Valerate, to reduce the itching.
4. General Treatment
If you have any of the three types of scrotal eczema, your physician may recommend a combination of the above medications. In addition, your physician may recommend other therapies, such as UVB radiation therapy to treat affected skin.
How can scrotal eczema be prevented?
There is no sure way to prevent scrotal eczema. Most cases are triggered by exposure to an allergen or irritant in the environment or contact with a specific substance (pesticides, latex, etc).
If you think that your eczema is caused by a particular substance, you should try to limit your exposure to that substance. This may involve changing your diet or lifestyle.
Does scrotal eczema affect sexual function?
Sources & references used in this article:
What textile engineers should know about the human skin by P Elsner – Textiles and the Skin, 2003 – books.google.com
The relation of eczema to attitude and to vascular reactions of the human skin by DT Graham, S Wolf – The Journal of laboratory and clinical …, 1953 – translationalres.com
Eczema: The What, the Who, and the How by K Ring – The Idea of an Essay, Volume 4: Sprouts, Shades, and …, 2017 – Springer
Assessing and treating adult patients with eczema by S Lawton – Primary Health Care, 2010 – journals.rcni.com
The Treatment of Atopic Dermatitis (eczema) with Traditional Chinese Herbs by M Frey – 2007 – pdfs.semanticscholar.org
Toxic Beauty: How Cosmetics and Personal-Care Products Endanger Your Health… and What You Can Do About It by SS Epstein – 2009 – books.google.com
Dietetic Treatment of Eczema in Infants and in Children by H Finkelstein – American Journal of Diseases of Children, 1937 – jamanetwork.com