Dermatitis is a skin disease which causes inflammation. Dermatitis can easily be observed if the skin has red and itchy patches, swollen or dry. The condition causes severe itch. If not treated, it can result in cracks, scales and blisters that are painful and ooze fluid. A person suffering from dermatitis will feel embarrassed and self-conscious because the skin gives a bad appearance. The skin affected by dermatitis may show blisters, ooze fluid, or flaking, causing embarrassment to the sufferer. Dermatitis may vary in form, from eczema and dandruff to rashes and sore skin caused by contact with plants such as poison ivy, chemicals in soaps, and contact with nickel jewellery if your skin is allergic to these.
Dermatitis can also affect the scalp. The scalp becomes itchy, with accompanying scaling and redness, which may lead to hair loss.
Types of dermatitis
Dermatitis comes in many forms. In this section, I will explain the types of dermatitis and their symptoms.
Atopic dermatitis: Also called eczema, it is the initial stage of the disease and causes itchy and red rash wherever the skin folds. It is found inside the elbows, behind the knees and the front of the neck. When scratched, the rash can leak fluid and shed flakes. It may be related to a number of factors, such as dry skin, genetics, bacteria and environmental conditions. The body’s auto-immune function can also trigger dermatitis sometimes.
Contact dermatitis: Contact dermatitis occurs as rashes when the skin comes into contact with poisonous plants and substances, chemicals, pollution, cosmetics or other allergens. The rash is painful and itchy and may cause swelling too. You have to find out the things that you are allergic to and avoid those, otherwise it will become troublesome.
Seborrheic dermatitis: Usually affecting oily parts of the body, this condition causes scaly patches, red skin and dandruff. It can be seen on the face, chest and back. This type of dermatitis may be caused by a yeast or fungus. If not treated, it becomes worse and spreads.
Nummular dermatitis: Round red plaques develop on the skin at various places. It affects men between 55 to 65 years of age.
Stasis dermatitis: In this condition, there is fluid build-up, blood pooling and irritation around the ankles.
Do not let the condition linger. It is advisable to seek medical help if the rash does not disappear after some days and the patient is feeling itchy and uncomfortable to be losing sleep.
Dermatitis can be caused by allergy, hereditary factors and exposure to chemicals and pollutants. It may occur with age, allergies and asthma. It also has genetic causes, and certain families are prone to eczema and allergies of various kinds. People who have jobs putting them in contact with certain metals, chemicals or solvents, will suffer risk of contact dermatitis. Certain diseases such as heart disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV, will also show symptoms of dermatitis.
Since the skin is itchy, one is tempted to scratch a lot. This causes damage and can cause open sores, which may then cause infection.
Emotional stress can also lead to eczema. Stress causes the skin to flare up and worsens the symptoms.
Another cause is cold weather, which causes dryness. Winter causes scaly, crusty, and reddish skin.
Be careful of the cosmetics you use. The ingredients in hair dyes, perfumes, creams and lotions sometimes trigger allergies! Be careful also of nail polish removers, certain kinds of soaps, fibres, and solvents.
Treatment and Prevention
To prevent dermatitis, people are advised to avoid dry skin. If you are prone to dry skin, take shorter baths or showers and avoid very hot water. Use warm water instead. Using moisturiser or bath oil will help avoid dryness. If you are using a harsh soap, switch to a mild and gentle cleanser. Many such fragrance-free non-soap cleansing options are available in the market, which you can try out.
It is also advised to change your drying habits after bath. Instead of rubbing the towel, it is recommended that a soft towel is used to absorb the water.
Dermatitis is an unattractive disease. The scaling and itching will turn away onlookers. That is why you must take precautions if you are prone to skin troubles. You can use medicated shampoos for the scalp that control dandruff, and keep the skin moisturized: don’t let it become dry, especially in the winters. Medications may also be prescribed by the doctor.