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Dermatitis is a skin disease that results in the inflammation of the skin. The skin rash may be mild, moderate or severe and is caused by infections, allergies and other triggering factors. The skin may become red, itchy and swollen. Some of the common types of dermatitis include atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis and seborrheic dermatitis.

Dermatitis may be genetically inherited. This skin condition is not contagious and therefore may resolve quickly. In some cases, depending on the season, environmental exposure and stress, it may last for a longtime. Dermatitis can be treated with self care steps, medications and phototherapy.


The following are the common signs and symptoms of dermatitis:

  • Painful skin, with stinging or burning sensation
  • Dry, cracked skin
  • Itchy skin
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Rashes
  • Blisters

The following are the signs and symptoms based on the type of dermatitis:

Atopic dermatitis (eczema): Rough patches of dry and itchy skin found on the elbows, behind the knees and in front of the neck.

Contact dermatitis: The skin may develop burning rashes or blisters when exposed to allergens.

Dyshidrotic dermatitis: It affects feet and hands. The skin may lack self-protection due to which it becomes dry and itchy.

Seborrheic dermatitis (cradle cap in babies): It affects scalp, face or chest. It causes scaly patches, red skin and dandruff.

Stasis dermatitis: Poor blood circulation may cause skin discoloration and thickening.


The following are the causes of different types of dermatitis:

Atopic dermatitis (eczema): It is caused due to multiple factors, such as bacteria present on the skin, changes in immune system, dry skin and gene variations.

Contact dermatitis: It is caused by direct contact with irritants or allergens such as perfumes, cosmetics, creams and lotions.

Seborrheic dermatitis: The fungus present in oil secretions of the skin can cause seborrheic dermatitis.

In some cases dermatitis is triggered by stress, hormonal changes, environment and irritable substances.


The following are the risk factors of dermatitis:

  • A family history of dermatitis
  • Existing skin disease
  • Health conditions
  • Environment
  • Medications
  • Occupation
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Age


Complications of dermatitis are as follows:

In case of young children, atopic dermatitis may develop into asthma and hay fever.

Neurodermatitis: With repeated scratching of the affected area, the skin may become leathery, discolored and thick and this condition is called as neurodermatitis.

Skin infections: The scratching of the itchy skin causes open sores and may get infected with bacteria and virus.

Poor sleep: Excessive scratching of the itchy skin during night, affects the quality of sleep.

Cellulitis: Contact dermatitis condition may develop into cellulitis if the patient’s immunity is low.


Physical examination: The doctor may conduct a physical examination and discuss about the medical history of the patient.

Patch test: The doctor may place specific substances on the skin that cause an allergic inflammation to check the skin’s reaction after a few days.

Skin biopsy: The doctor may remove some amount of skin from the affected area to determine the exact cause of the condition. The skin sample is sent to the laboratory for microscopic examination.


Home remedies:

  • Application of cool and wet compress can reduce skin irritation and inflammation.
  • Application of over-the-counter creams such as hydrocortisone or calamine lotion gives the skin a soothing effect.
  • An oatmeal bath, followed by application of moisturizer is a best way to relieve dermatitis symptoms.
  • Bleach bathing with half cup of household bleach helps to decrease bacteria present on the skin.
  • Covering the itchy area with cotton clothing helps to prevent the skin from getting rubbed and scratched.

Medical treatment:

Treatment is based on the type and severity of dermatitis.

In addition to home remedies, medications such as corticosteroid creams and lotions are useful in treating dermatitis.

Phototherapy: It is the procedure of exposing the affected area of the skin to controlled amounts of natural or artificial light. Thus, it helps in reducing the inflammation on the skin.


By the following ways, dermatitis can be prevented:

  • Using non soap cleansers or gentle soaps
  • Drying skin carefully with soft towel
  • Identifying and avoiding triggers
  • Taking shorter shower or baths to prevent dryness
  • Moisturizing the skin

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