Dermatitis was estimated as of 2010 to affect 230 million people globally (3.5% of the population). While dermatitis is not life-threatening, a number of other illnesses have been linked to the condition, including osteoporosis, depression, and heart disease.
Dermatitis is inflammation of the skin. Depending on the type of dermatitis, areas of skin may become red and itchy with some acute attacks causing crusty scales or blisters that ooze fluid. Dermatitis simply means skin inflammation, but it embraces a range of ailments. In most people, the early stages of dermatitis are characterized by red, dry, and itchy skin. More serious dermatitis may result in crusty scales, painful cracks, or blisters that ooze fluid. Since many things can irritate the skin, a doctor will try to narrow the diagnosis to a specific category of dermatitis, even though treatment is similar for most types of skin irritation and inflammation.
Treatment is typically with moisturizers and steroid creams. If these are not effective, creams based on calcineurin inhibitors may be used.

Contact of Dermatitis

Inflammation of the skin that results from contact of an external substance with the skin. This can occur through one of two mechanisms:

  • Irritation or
  • Allergy

Types of Dermatitis


Contact dermatitis typically causes the skin to develop a pink or red rash, which usually itches. Pinpointing the exact cause of contact dermatitis can be difficult. Contact dermatitis may be irritant or allergic. Common chemical irritants include detergents, soaps, some synthetic fibres, nail polish remover, anti-perspirants, and formaldehyde (found in non- iron fabrics, polishes, artificial-fingernail adhesive, chipboard, and foam insulation). Some plants, in particular primula, chrysanthemums, daffodils and tulips, irritate some people. Wearing rubber gloves, or nickel or cobalt in jewelry can cause contact allergic dermatitis if the person is allergic to these substances. Both types of contact dermatitis may be caused by cosmetics, perfumes, hair dyes, and skin-care products.


Nummular dermatitis consists of distinctive coin-shaped red plaques that are most commonly seen on the legs, hands, arms, and torso. It is more common in men than women and the peak age of onset is between 55 and 65. Living in a dry environment or having very hot showers can cause this condition.

Atopic or Eczema

Atopic dermatitis, or eczema, causes the skin to itch, scale, swell, and sometimes blister. This type of eczema usually runs in families and is often associated with allergies, asthma, and stress.


Seborrheic dermatitis consists of greasy, yellowish, or reddish scaling on the scalp and other hairy areas, as well as on the face or genitals, and in skin creases along the nose, under the breasts, and elsewhere. This condition is called cradle cap in infants and is likely to be related to maternal hormonal changes affecting the sebaceous glands (glands that produce a natural greasy substance, sebum). It may be aggravated by stress.


Stasis dermatitis is caused by poor circulation and can happen in people with varicose veins, congestive heart failure, or other conditions. Veins in the lower legs fail to return blood efficiently, causing pooling of blood and fluid build-up and oedema. This leads to irritation, especially round the ankles.


Dry, reddish, itchy skin indicates some kind of dermatitis, or skin inflammation, of which there are many types:

  • A red rash that is limited to the area of skin exposed to an irritant is probably contact dermatitis.
  • Red, itchy, circular patches of weeping, scaly, or encrusted skin suggest nummular dermatitis, common in older people who have dry skin or live in dry environments.
  • Greasy, yellowish scales on the scalp and eyebrows, behind the ears, and around the nose indicate seborrhoeic dermatitis, in infants it is called cradle cap.
  • Scaling, sometimes ulcerated skin appearing inside the lower legs and around the ankles, may indicate stasis dermatitis.
  • Extreme, persistent itchiness may signal atopic dermatitis (eczema). Very often, however, itchiness results simply from dry skin.

Seek Medical Advice if:

  • Patient skin has oozing sores or other signs of infection. Patient may need treatment with antibiotics or other drugs.
  • The affected skin does not respond to treatment with over-the-counter creams or medicated shampoos. Patient should have a medical diagnosis made and treatment recommended.
  • During a flare-up of eczema, if people are exposed to anyone with a herpes simplex virus infection, than people are at increased risk of contracting the viral disorder.


  • The first step in treating dermatitis is to identify and eliminate the cause. Most mild skin inflammation responds well to room temperature baths followed by application of fragrance-free moisturizing lotions or over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream. Once chemicals causing contact dermatitis are identified, treatment will be based on avoidance, symptom relief and other coping mechanisms:
  • Seborrheic dermatitis may respond to anti- dandruff shampoo. These products may contain tar, salicylic acid, zinc pyrithione, ketoconazole, sulfur or selenium, any of which may be effective.
  • To help clear the lesions of nummular dermatitis, applying a moisturizing lotion and corticosteroid cream may be recommended.
  • If anybody suffer from stasis dermatitis, wearing support stockings and elevating his\her legs to reduce their swelling may be advised. Also, the underlying condition that is causing the leg swelling should be controlled. If an open ulcer gets infected, antibiotics may be needed.
  • To reduce inflammation and heal the irritation of most types of dermatitis, a doctor will usually recommend a prescription corticosteroid cream and may prescribe an oral antihistamine to relieve severe itching and an antibiotic if a secondary infection develops. Severe cases of dermatitis may call for corticosteroid tablets or, in rare cases, injections.


Most cases of dermatitis develop in people with sensitive skin and can be prevented simply by avoiding the irritant. If anybody feel that he is at risk, consider these preventative steps:

  • Wear loose-fitting, natural- fibre clothing, untreated cotton is ideal.
  • Have warm, not hot, baths or showers and use mild soap or a soap substitute cream.
  • Moisturise skin after a bath using an unscented lotion, ointment or cream.
  • Avoid identified triggers such as plated jewellery, especially in ears, to prevent nickel-related rashes. Surgical steel or 14-carat gold earring posts are usually better choices.
  • Don’t wear a watchstrap that presses against skin for long periods, the friction and sweat build-up can cause rashes.
  • Consider using a humidifier at home and at work to keep the air from getting too dry.
  • Prevention at Home: Once you have identified the substances or activities that caused outbreak, it’s important to avoid them. Read the labels on cosmetics, lotions, soaps, and other products. People may need to use dye and perfume-free products. Wear gloves when wash dishes or using cleaners and chemicals around the house. Wear gloves and keep their arms and legs covered when work in the garden. If anybody have photoallergic dermatitis, stay out of the sun.
  • Prevention at Work: If people work in an environment with irritants or allergens, wear protective clothing and take measures to avoid skin contact. This might include:
  • Nonlatex protective gloves
  • Long sleeve shirts
  • Good ventilation
  • Barrier creams or skin cleansers
  • Proper storage of chemicals
  • Disposable paper towels
  • If contact substances that irritate skin, wash the affected area immediately with warm water and mild soap. This can help stop the reaction.

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