Definition

What is dermatitis?

Dermatitis is a condition that occurs when you experience an inflammation of the skin. There are many causes of dermatitis and occurs in many forms. It usually involves an itchy rash on swollen, reddened skin.

Skin affected by dermatitis may blister, ooze, develop a crust or flake off. Examples of dermatitis include atopic dermatitis (eczema), dandruff and rashes caused by contact with any of a number of substances, such as poison ivy, soaps and jewelry with nickel in it.

Dermatitis is a common condition that’s not contagious, but it can make you feel uncomfortable and self-conscious. A combination of self-care steps and medications can help you treat dermatitis

How common is dermatitis?

Dermatitis is a common chronic or recurrent inflammatory skin disease and affects 15-20% of children and 1-3% of adults worldwide.

However, it can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of dermatitis?

The signs and symptoms of dermatitis will depend on what type of skin disease you get. They might include:

  • Atopic dermatitis (eczema)

Usually beginning in infancy, this red, itchy rash most commonly occurs where the skin flexes inside the elbows, behind the knees and the front of the neck. When scratched, the rash can leak fluid and crust over. People with atopic dermatitis may experience improvement and then flare-ups.

  • Contact dermatitis

This rash occurs on areas of the body that have come into contact with substances that either irritate the skin or cause an allergic reaction, such as poison ivy, soap and essential oils. The red rash may burn, sting or itch. Blisters may develop.

  • Seborrheic dermatitis

This condition causes scaly patches, red skin and stubborn dandruff. It usually affects oily areas of the body, such as the face, upper chest and back. It can be a long-term condition with periods of remission and flare-ups. In infants, this disorder is known as cradle cap

When should I see my doctor?

Early diagnosis and treatment can stop this condition from worsening and prevent another medical emergency, so talk to your doctor as soon as possible to prevent this serious condition.

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consulting with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes dermatitis?

  • Atopic dermatitis (eczema)

This form of dermatitis is likely related to a mix of factors, including dry skin, a gene variation, an immune system dysfunction, bacteria on the skin and environmental conditions.

  • Contact dermatitis

This condition results from direct contact with one of many irritants or allergens, such as poison ivy, jewelry containing nickel, cleaning products, perfumes, cosmetics, and even the preservatives in many creams and lotions.

  • Seborrheic dermatitis

This condition may be caused by a yeast (fungus) that is in the oil secretion on the skin. People with seborrheic dermatitis may notice their condition tends to come and go depending on the season.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for dermatitis?

You may have higher risks for this condition if you are experiencing these following conditions:

  • Age

Dermatitis can occur at any age, but atopic dermatitis (eczema) usually begins in infancy.

  • Allergies and asthma

People who have a personal or family history of eczema, allergies, hay fever or asthma are more likely to develop atopic dermatitis.

  • Occupation

Jobs that put you in contact with certain metals, solvents or cleaning supplies increase your risk of contact dermatitis. Being a health care worker is linked to hand eczema.

  • Health conditions

You may be at increased risk of seborrheic dermatitis if you have one of a number of conditions, such as congestive heart failure, Parkinson’s disease and HIV.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is dermatitis diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects that you may experience this condition, a physical examination will be performed. Then he or she might conduct patch testing on your skin. In this test, small amounts of various substances are applied to your skin under an adhesive covering.

During return visits over the next several days, your doctor examines your skin to see if you’ve had a reaction to any of the substances. This type of testing is best done at least two weeks after your dermatitis has cleared up. It’s most useful for determining if you have specific contact allergies.

How is dermatitis treated?

Depending on the cause and each person’s experience of the condition, the treatment for dermatitis varies

Additionally to the lifestyle and home remedies recommendations below, most dermatitis treatment plans include one or more of the following:

  • Applying corticosteroid creams
  • Applying certain creams or lotions that affect your immune system (calcineurin inhibitors)
  • Exposing the affected area to controlled amounts of natural or artificial light (phototherapy)

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage dermatitis?

Following these tips can help you to prevent this condition:

  • Take shorter baths or showers

Limit your baths and showers to 5 to 10 minutes. And use warm, rather than hot, water. Bath oil also may be helpful.

  • Use non-soap cleansers or gentle soaps

Choose fragrance-free non-soap cleansers or mild soaps. Some soaps can dry your skin.

  • Dry yourself carefully

After bathing, brush your skin rapidly with the palms of your hands, or gently pat your skin dry with a soft towel.

  • Moisturize your skin

While your skin is still damp, seal in moisture with an oil or a cream.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: June 26, 2017 | Last Modified: June 26, 2017

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