Dermatitis is a general term that describes an inflammation of the skin. It is not contagious or dangerous – but it can be uncomfortable. Dermatitis produces scaling, flaking, thickening, color changes in the skin and it is almost always itchy.
Types and Symptoms of Dermatitis
There are different types of dermatitis, each with their own set of causes and symptoms. However they all have the same common symptoms of redness, itching, swelling, and skin lesions. Click on each type of dermatitis to view the symptoms.
Contact Dermatitis – A rash that results from repeated contact with irritants resulting in redness, itchy skin and swelling
Atopic Dermatitis – (also called Eczema or Atopic Eczema) – Chronic rash, itchy skin
Seborrheic Dermatitis – Shows up on the scalp and face – it often leads to dandruff
Nummular Dermatitis – Coin shaped lesions on the arms, hands, legs and torso. More common in men than women. The age of onset is between 55 and 65. May begin with one or more round red plaques with tiny blisters. Patches often itch and burn. Itching and burning range from severe to barely noticeable. The itch may intensify at night, disturbing sleep.
Perioral Dermatitis – Rash around the nose or mouth that appears bumpy
Stasis Dermatitis – Presents as a buildup of fluid under the skin of the legs, usually the lower legs.
A number of genetic factors, irritants, allergies and health conditions can cause dermatitis – we have listed some of the most common causes for each of the types of dermatitis. These may not be what triggers your dermatitis, so, if you are unable to successfully identify the cause of your dermatitis, it is time to consult a doctor, who will test for causes in your case. Some common causes are:
Contact Dermatitis – Laundry soap; cleaning products; skin soaps, perfumes, jewelry, and so on.
Atopic Dermatitis (also called Eczema or Atopic Eczema) – This is a hereditary form of dermatitis. Common causes are allergies, asthma or hay fever. Atopic dermatitis usually starts in infants but becomes less of a problem in adulthood. Stress can exacerbate atopic dermatitis but it does not cause it.
Seborrheic Dermatitis – This type of dermatitis looks like a red rash with yellowish scales that usually show up on the scalp. In babies, this is called ‘cradle cap’. Seborrheic dermatitis appears to run in families. Stress, fatigue, weather extremes, oily skin, infrequent shampoos or skin cleaning, use of lotions that contain alcohol, skin disorders (such as acne), or obesity may increase the risk. Neurologic conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, stroke or head injuries may be associated with seborrheic dermatitis.
Nummular Dermatitis – This can be triggered by a number of things, including, poor blood flow, very dry skin, skin infection, low humidity, extreme cold, certain medications, or a sensitivity to rubber, nickel, formaldehyde, or neomycin. If the patient has an allergy to any of these, the skin will only clear when the substance is avoided.
Perioral Dermatitis – This may be associated with skin disorders such as adult acne, seborrheic dermatitis or Rosacea. Causes include topical corticosteroids, moisturizers, makeup or dental products containing fluoride.
Stasis Dermatitis – This appears due to a diminished return of blood flow from the leg veins back to the heart. Could be caused by varicose veins, poor circulation or recurring infections.
Treating dermatitis varies depending on the type and cause of the condition. Treatment ranges from simple home remedies, to prescription strength medications to relieve and treat the symptoms. For example, treating contact dermatitis can be as simple as avoiding the irritant – read more to find out what works for you.
Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide. Dermatitis. Future Medicine Publishing, Inc. 2008.