What is Dermatitis?
Dermatitis is a condition that causes
inflammation of the skin. The condition is not contagious and can have many
causes. Dermatitis is not considered dangerous, but it can be uncomfortable. Certain
types of dermatitis are chronic—for example, atopic dermatitis. But treatments
Types of Dermatitis
There are several
types of dermatitis. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the two most common
types are contact dermatitis and atopic dermatitis.
Contact dermatitis develops when the skin comes in direct
contact with an allergen. This causes an allergic reaction. Common irritants
include poison oak, poison ivy, detergent, perfume, cosmetics, and nickel.
Atopic dermatitis is also called eczema. It can be
chronic and may first start in infancy. It tends to run in families with a
history of allergies (Cleveland Clinic).
Some additional forms of dermatitis are dyshidrotic
dermatitis and seborrheic dermatitis. Dyshidrotic dermatitis is found only on
the feet and hands. Seborrheic dermatitis is usually found on the scalp and face
and is related to oily skin (American Academy of Dermatology).
The cause of
dermatitis varies depending on the type.
Contact dermatitis is
caused by an allergic reaction. Why some individuals develop certain allergies
is not known.
The cause of atopic
dermatitis is not clear, but it does appear to have a genetic factor. People
with atopic dermatitis often have a family history of allergies or asthma. The
main cause of seborrheic dermatitis is oily skin and hair. This type of
dermatitis also appears to run in families.
What Are the Risk Factors For Dermatitis?
Having a family
history of dermatitis appears to increase a person’s risk of dermatitis. Having
a family history of asthma or hay fever also increases the risk of atopic
dermatitis. People who work with or near strong chemical substances, which may
irritate the skin, are also at an increased risk of developing dermatitis.
What Are the Symptoms of Dermatitis?
dermatitis range from mild to severe. Not all people with dermatitis experience
all symptoms. Symptoms may also depend on what type of dermatitis is present
and where it is on the body. In general, symptoms of dermatitis may include a
red rash, blisters, and dry, cracked skin. Itchy skin is also common and can
become severe. The skin may become painful, with stinging or burning.
How Is Dermatitis Diagnosed?
A diagnosis is made
after a physical exam and a discussion of the patient’s medical history. A
dermatologist can often diagnose dermatitis just by looking at the skin. In some
cases, a skin patch test is recommended. In a skin patch, a doctor puts small
amounts of different substances on the skin. This helps determine what is
causing the reaction.
How Is Dermatitis Treated?
dermatitis depend on the severity of symptoms and the cause. Medication is
often the main treatment. Topical creams containing hydrocortisone can reduce
inflammation, redness, and itching.
Antihistamines are sometimes
recommended in order to reduce allergic reactions, which can cause dermatitis. Antibiotics
are usually given only if an infection has developed. Infections can occur when
the skin is broken due to intense scratching.
Home care for
dermatitis may include applying cool, wet cloths to the skin. This can reduce
itching and discomfort. Adding baking soda to a cool bath may also help reduce
symptoms. Covering the skin with a dressing or bandage prevents scratching or
infection if the skin is broken.
Dermatitis is sometimes associated with
an increase in stress. Alternative therapies may help reduce stress. These
include acupuncture, massage, and medications.
therapies, such as herbs and dietary supplements, may be used to treat
dermatitis. Some studies indicate that children
under the age of 13 may reduce eczema by taking probiotics (Mayo Clinic).
What Is the Outlook For Dermatitis?
Dermatitis is not
considered a serious medical condition. The frequency and severity of symptoms
are usually reduced with treatment. It is possible to learn methods that
prevent or control flare-ups.
How Is Dermatitis Prevented?
Dermatitis often runs
in families, so it is not always preventable. But it is possible to prevent symptom
People with allergies
should avoid skin contact with allergens. Frequently moisturizing the skin can
Avoid excess drying
of the skin by reducing bath time to 15 minutes or less, and use warm water instead
of hot water. Use mild soaps and detergents, which are less likely to irritate