What is Dermatitis?

Dermatitis is a common health concern characterized by inflammation of the skin – the skin usually becomes swollen, red and itchy. It occurs in many forms with several causes, some forms of dermatitis are known while others remain unknown. This skin condition is not serious but can cause much discomfort if not treated properly.

The various types of dermatitis include:
  • Contact dermatitis develops as a rash as a result of direct contact with irritants or allergens repeatedly
  • Neurodermatitis is an itchy skin condition which involves a certain area of the skin
  • Seborrheic dermatis is a scalp condition that causes dandruff
  • Stasis dermatitis is a skin condition that occurs as a result of an accumulation of fluid under the skin of the legs
  • Atopic dermatitis is a chronic itchy rash that comes and goes. It is also referred to as eczema or atopic eczema
  • Perioral dermatitis is a bumpy rash that develops around the mouth or nose
The common symptoms and signs of dermatitis include:
  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Skin lesions
Diagnosing Dermatitis

The diagnosis of dermatitis is based on your symptoms as well as medical history. Biopsy or patch testing may be oredered to identify the causes of the allergic response. 

What causes Dermatitis?

Each type of dermatitis has a different cause and they include:

Contact dermatitis occurs as a result of direct contact with irritants such as cleaning products, detergents, laundry soap powder or soaps. Or contact with allergens such as cosmetics, perfumes, jewelry, certain metals, rubber, weeds or grass may be the cause.

Neurodermatitis is caused when a specific area of your skin itches and you scratch or rub your skin repeatedly. It may be linked to other skin conditions such as eczema, dry skin or psoriasis. It usually occurs on the back of your neck, forearm or arm, wrist and ankles. 

Seborrheic dermatitis develops as a result of an overproduction of oil glands usually on the scalp. People with oily hair or skin are commonly affected by this condition. When this condition affects infants, it is known as cradle cap. It is also associated with people who suffer from neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease or experience stress.

Stasis dermatitis occurs as a result of poor circulation and varicose veins – when the leg veins fail to transport blood to heart as effectively as before and a buildup of fluid accumulates in the lower legs causing them to swell. It can also develop into a rash and break out into sores (stasis ulcers).

Atopic dermatitis can be caused by allergies, asthma or hay fever. It has also been known to be caused by stress. This condition usually begins in infancy through childhood but tends to lessen in adulthood.

Perioral dermatitis may be caused by moisturizers, make-up, dental products or topical cortico-steroid. It may be a type of skin disorder such as adult acne, rosacea or seborrheic dermatitis which develops in a rash around the mouth or nose.

Help for Dermatitis
  • Eat a healthy, well balanced diet 
  • Avoid foods that may cause allergic reactions
  • Add oatmeal or baking soda to a cool bath of water to soothe your skin
  • Keep your skin moisturized and moist daily to heal inflamed skin
  • Avoid contact with things that may irritate your skin such as household detergents or cleansers
  • Wear cotton clothing to avoid irritating the skin
  • Avoid activities that can cause you to become too hot or sweaty
  • Avoid saunas, steam and hot baths
  • Cover the affected area with bandages or dressings to prevent excessive scratching
  • Avoid rubbing or scratching the affected area
  • Wear gloves if your hands will be exposed to anything that irritates your skin
  • Use unscented, mild laundry detergents
  • Reduce stress  
Treatment options vary depending on the type of dermatitis involved. One of the primary objectives of treatment is to help you to stop scratching and irritating your skin – this can usually be achieved by covering the affected area with a bandage, gloves or dressing. To treat contact dermatitis, hydro cortisone or other steroidal creams are applied with or without wet dressings.

Neurodermatitis is also treated with hydrocortisone creams together with wet dressings and in some cases anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication may be administered to provide relief. For seborrheic dermatitis, medicated shampoos containing tar or salicylic acid are generally recommended.

For stasis dermatitis, wearing elastic support hose may help correct the fluid that accumulates in your legs or ankles for long periods. In more serious cases, varicose vein surgery may be required. If you suffer from atopic dermatitis, you may be prescribed antihistamines or light therapy may be recommended. For perioral dermatitis, antibiotics and a corticosteroid cream is prescribed.

Natural and holistic treatments have proven to be highly effective in reducing the symptoms of dermatitis when conventional medicine has not helped. Treatments such as herbal and homeopathic remedies are safe and gentle to use and support overall skin health.
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