Do you think you might be experiencing a form of skin irritation but don’t know what it is? It might be dermatitis. This guide will take you through what you need to know about the symptoms, causes, types, and the treatment that you can get to treat this skin condition.
What is Dermatitis?
Dermatitis is a form of skin irritation that can occur anywhere on the body. Some people might experience it on their hands, while others get dermatitis on their legs, feet, or face.
Dermatitis is usually easy to spot by its three main symptoms: dry skin, itchiness, and rashes. The skin may also be flaky, crusty, and thick. You need a doctor to properly diagnose dermatitis, however.
There are several different types of dermatitis – some affect specific areas, and some are more common in particular demographics. It’s important to understand which type of dermatitis you have so that you can find the best treatments.
While there is no cure for dermatitis, there are plenty of ways to manage symptoms and lead a normal life.
Types of Dermatitis & their Symptoms
As mentioned, there are several different types of dermatitis and it’s important to understand which type of dermatitis you have. The different dermatitis are:
Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczematous dermatitis/eczema, is a skin condition that results in inflamed, red, and itchy skin. It is the most common type of dermatitis, affecting around 7.3% of adults, of which 40% experience moderate to severe symptoms. Symptoms include:
- Dry skin
- Itchiness – sometimes intense
- Scaly, crusty, flaky skin
- Small, raised bumps
- Red, grey, or brown patches on the skin
Atopic dermatitis is more common in children, but adults can get it for the first time, too. It also mainly shows up on the back of the knees and inside the elbows, but atopic dermatitis can appear anywhere on the skin.
Contact dermatitis is a skin rash that itches. It is called ‘contact’ dermatitis because it requires contact with an irritant or allergen. A person with contact dermatitis only gets flare-ups when they touch the thing that they are allergic to. This is different from many other dermatitis types as it is a result of external factors rather than an internal skin condition. The symptoms are:
- Red rash/es
- Dry skin
- Blisters and bumps
- Swelling around the area
It can be difficult to determine whether or not dermatitis is contact dermatitis or another type. That’s why it’s important to visit your doctor, as a patch test can help confirm an allergy or whether it is one of the different types of dermatitis. Once you know it is contact dermatitis, you can find a contact dermatitis treatment to suit your needs.
Stasis dermatitis – also known as venous stasis dermatitis – is a skin condition that affects the lower part of the legs and usually coincides with issues with the veins. A person with stasis dermatitis most likely also has poor circulation, and it is more common in women and the elderly.
The common symptoms of stasis dermatitis:
- Scaly skin
- Thick reddish/yellowish/brown skin around the ankles
- Hair loss on ankles
- Varicose veins
- Crusty sores
This type of dermatitis usually happens due to ageing, but it can also be a sign of something more serious. A doctor’s appointment is essential if you show these symptoms.
Seborrheic dermatitis is a common type of dermatitis that specifically targets the scalp. You can usually spot it due to the appearance of excessive dandruff, redness, and scales. As well as the scalp, you may also find seborrheic dermatitis around the face and upper region of the body – especially around the nose, eyelids, and ears. The symptoms include:
- Flakes on the scalp or hair
- Patches of scaly skin – seborrheic dermatitis dry, flaky skin on nose is a common symptom
As it is a type of scalp dermatitis and, as such, is very visible, many sufferers have self-esteem issues. There are plenty of home treatments for seborrheic dermatitis, though, and you can see a doctor for stronger treatment options.
Neurodermatitis is a type of dermatitis that is incessantly itchy and often produces scaly patches. It is different from atopic dermatitis as it usually only targets one or two areas of the skin, whereas atopic dermatitis can spread anywhere.
- Leathery/scaly skin in one or two areas
- Dark, raised, rough skin
Due to how itchy neurodermatitis is, the itching cycle can be hard to break for sufferers. A doctor’s appointment and creams to soothe the itching are crucial to help it heal.
Perioral dermatitis is a type of dermatitis on the face. It occurs around the mouth area, looking like a red circle around the mouth. This rash can be scaly, flaky, and swollen and often feels very dry. Perioral dermatitis may also show as small red bumps, known as papules. Here are the symptoms:
- A red rash around the mouth
- Small bumps (papules)
- Scaly and flaky skin around the mouth
As perioral dermatitis occurs around the mouth, it can often be mistaken for acne, but it often causes more redness, itchiness, and burning than usual acne.
Rather than an internal skin condition, dermatitis neglecta is caused by very low hygiene levels. By not washing the skin often enough, the person experiences a scaly build-up on their skin that feels dry and itchy. The scales are made up of bacteria, sweat, oil, corneocytes, and dirt. The symptoms of dermatitis neglecta include:
- Inflamed/Irritated Skin
- Scaly patches (known as plaques)
Dermatitis Neglecta is a rarer form of dermatitis. It is often misdiagnosed, too, as the doctor may assume it’s another more common type of eczema.
Periocular dermatitis, also known as eyelid dermatitis, is a skin condition that targets the eyelids. It appears as small scales and bumps around the eyes. Due to its location, it can cause severe discomfort for the sufferer. The symptoms are:
- Scaly skin around the eyes
- Small red bumps around the eyes
If you suspect you have periocular dermatitis, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your doctor to find the right treatment options.
Causes of Dermatitis
There are many causes of dermatitis. It depends on the type, the person, and many other factors. Some of the most common causes include:
Allergens or Irritants
For contact dermatitis, the inflammation happens due to an allergen or irritant. That could be a laundry detergent, a bar of soap, or a type of fabric.
Most cases of dermatitis have a link to genetics. If you have a family member with a type of dermatitis, you are more likely to get it yourself.
Air pollutants like tobacco can trigger a flare-up of dermatitis. Pollen could be to blame, too.
Certain job occupations trigger more cases of dermatitis than others. If you work with harsh chemicals, for example, you might end up with a flare-up of dermatitis. Also, if you have a particularly stressful life, you are more likely to encounter flare-ups.
There are some particular causes for specific dermatitis types, too. Low hygiene causes dermatitis neglecta, for example, and stasis dermatitis occurs when you have poor circulation.
While dermatitis is not curable, there are plenty of treatments to help the uncomfortable symptoms disappear.
It’s important to also note that with dermatitis types caused by external factors, such as contact dermatitis and dermatitis neglecta, you can get rid of the symptoms for good by addressing the external problems.
Creams are the most common treatment for most forms of dermatitis. They help because they are moisturising and hydrating, which combats the dryness and scaliness of dermatitis. For many, the coolness can also be relieving, as it can lessen the feeling of the itch.
Finding the best cream for dermatitis may take a little while. You want one that has no perfumes and is preferably safe over time, such as the Decubal Original Clinic Cream. It is safe for eyelids, is paraben-free, and can even be used on babies, making it a good eyelid dermatitis treatment. This gentle cream will moisturise a flared-up area without any irritation. Plus, it’s a great cream for contact dermatitis on the face.
Find a dermatitis cream that targets your specific skincare needs and if that doesn’t work, seek your doctor’s help.
Another dermatitis treatment is medications. They are usually recommended after at-home treatments haven’t worked.
A doctor or dermatologist might also offer prescriptive steroid creams and anti-inflammatory medications for acute or severe dermatitis.
Avoiding Allergens and Irritants
If the dermatitis is caused by allergens and irritants, a way to get it to heal (and for it to stay away) is to avoid those things. For example, if a person experiences rashes from a type of fabric, they would then make sure to not wear or use that fabric in the future.
Discovering what triggers dermatitis can be tricky, so a doctor will perform a patch test to see what you react to. Once you know which allergens and irritants to avoid, you can work toward healing.
As well as avoiding allergens, you will also likely invest in hypoallergenic skin products such as the Decubal products, that are free from perfume and parabens. Doing so will help keep outbreaks at bay.
Managing Stress Levels
Another trigger for dermatitis is stress, which makes managing stress a treatment option. There are plenty of various ways to do so, including spending more time outside, taking up exercise, and lessening your workload. Activities like medication can be very helpful, too.
Avoiding Scratching, Rubbing, and Picking
For many people with dermatitis, this treatment method is the hardest. For the scabs, rashes, and patches to heal, you need to leave them alone. That means no scratching, rubbing, and picking at the area.
Questions to Expect from Your Doctor or Dermatologist
If you suspect you have any form of dermatitis, it is best to see your doctor to understand the exact cause and the best ways to treat it. To ensure you receive the best treatment for dermatitis, you should also think about the questions you must answer first. That way, you will give the doctor all the necessary answers. Some questions to expect include:
- When did your dermatitis start?
- How frequent are your outbreaks?
- How long do the outbreaks last?
- What treatments have you tried?
- What is your family history?
- Have you noticed any triggers?
Infected dermatitis often happens in people who suffer from severe dermatitis. It occurs when bacteria, viruses, or fungi enter the skin through a wound, resulting in an infection. The signs that dermatitis is infected are:
- Weeping dermatitis
- Extreme itchiness
- Fluid drainage
If you suspect that your dermatitis is infected, you must schedule an appointment with your doctor. They will inspect the area and treat it appropriately. The doctor may then prescribe antiviral medications, steroid creams, or antibiotics.
Dermatitis in Children
Child and infant dermatitis are often worrying for parents and guardians. You might not know what’s causing the red, itchy bumps or rashes on the skin.
Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of dermatitis in children, and signs usually start when the child is between three and six months. Children with family members who also have dermatitis are more at risk, as are those with other allergies, such as asthma.
If your child has scaly skin, red patches, itchiness, and raised bumps, they may have atopic dermatitis. Take your child to the doctor, where they can take blood tests and skin tests to get to the root cause of these symptoms.
You can lessen your child’s dermatitis symptoms at home by keeping them away from irritants, using gentle cleansers, and applying moisturizing lotions when needed. Your doctor may also prescribe medications to help your child heal, such as antihistamines, antibiotics, and corticosteroid cream.
How Do You Cure Dermatitis?
There is currently no cure for dermatitis. There are, however, ways to lessen symptoms. By understanding your triggers and finding the best cream for dermatitis, you can dramatically improve the symptoms and lead a fulfilled life without too much discomfort.
Does Dermatitis Go Away?
Dermatitis often comes and goes in waves. You may have severe flare-ups followed by long periods of inactivity. For those who have had dermatitis their whole lives, it will likely always come back, but there are ways to minimse symptoms.
In some children, dermatitis can leave spontaneously.
What Creams Help with Dermatitis?
Choose a safe cream that contains no perfume and is highly moisturising. The Decubal Basic Original Cream is excellent for all areas of the body. If you need something stronger, speak to your dermatologist.
Is Dermatitis Contagious?
No – no form of dermatitis is contagious. You don’t have to worry about passing it on or picking it up from someone else.
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