What is dermatitis?
Dermatitis is a general term for conditions that generally cause inflammation of the skin, resulting in rashes, peeling, itching, redness and blisters. More serious cases can present with crusty scales, painful skin cracks and oozing. Dermatitis and eczema are often used interchangeably, but this is incorrect. While all types of eczema are dermatitis, not all types of dermatitis are eczema.
What are the different types of dermatitis?
There are different types of dermatitis, among the most frequent are:
Other types include dyshidrotic dermatitis, neurodermatitis, nummular dermatitis, stasis dermatitis, and dermatitis neglecta.
What does dermatitis look like?
The symptoms of dermatitis vary according to the type but are usually characterised the skin becoming dry, itchy, red and inflamed. The location of the rash depends on the type of dermatitis. In some cases, these symptoms appear in combination with other conditions (dandruff, intestinal ailments, etc.). The rash on the skin can be mild to very severe, causing pain or a burning sensation.
Is dermatitis contagious?
Dermatitis is not contagious. A person with dermatitis does not have infected skin that can be passed on to someone else.
Is dermatitis a serious health condition?
While the symptoms can be uncomfortable, it is not a health threatening condition. No serious bodily harm will result from dermatitis, apart from potential scarring as a result of scratching.
What is the main cause of dermatitis?
Dermatitis can be a consequence of several factors:
What triggers dermatitis?
Certain things can trigger and worsen the symptoms of dermatitis such as:
- cleaning chemicals
- cosmetic products
- certain fabrics
- hot showers
- allergens, like pollen
Who is most susceptible to dermatitis?
Anyone can get dermatitis. It affects 20% of people at least once in their lifetime. Certain types are more likely depending on the stage of life an individual:
- Infancy: cradle cap, diaper rash.
- Childhood: atopic dermatitis, pityriasis alba.
- Middle age adults: hand eczema.
When should a doctor be visited?
You should visit a doctor if the pain or itching becomes unbearable, preventing sleep or interfering with daily activities. Additionally, seek attention if the skin appears to have become infected.
Which specialist treats dermatitis?
Generally, dermatitis will be treated by a dermatologist.
How is dermatitis diagnosed?
Diagnosis of dermatitis can only be done during a consultation with a specialist dermatologist or GP, who will assess the symptoms and ask questions to understand them better. The more specific information that is provided about the symptoms, the more accurate the diagnoses will be. While a skin examination usually suffices to make a diagnosis, blood tests, a skin biopsy, or an allergy skin test may be used also.
Does dermatitis go away?
Whether dermatitis will go away by itself of not depends on the cause. Contact dermatitis can go away itself, but some conditions are chronic (lifelong). Treatment can be very successful in managing the symptoms however.
How do you treat dermatitis?
Treating dermatitis depends on the type of dermatitis diagnosed. Common treatments for dermatitis include:
How can the symptoms be managed?
- avoid known triggers, like foods or chemicals
- manage stress
- shorter, cooler showers
- keep environment cool, dehumidified
- use products for sensitive skin
- don’t scratch your skin.