What is Dermatitis?

To put it in simple terms Dermatitis is inflammation of the skin. The word ‘Dermis’ means skin and any rashes or irritation appearing on and affecting the dermis is called Dermatitis. Dermatitis may include a number of symptoms like rashes, redness, flaking or scaling of the skin, thickening, painful ulcers, itchiness, crusting and blistering of the skin. The cause may be any infection, allergy or irritating substances. The symptoms may be mild or severe.

What are the types of Dermatitis?

There are many types of Dermatitis depending upon its occurrence. Sometimes Dermatitis is confused with eczema which is a form of Dermatitis but which is chronic / hereditary in nature and also is a condition existing along with Asthma due to the presence of common element of Allergic reactions.

The other two major and common types of Dermatitis are Atopic Dermatitis and Contact Dermatitis. The other less common types are, Dishydrosis, Discoid, Venous, Neurodermatitis and Autoeczematization.

What is Atopic Dermatitis? What are its causes?

Atopic Dermatitis is a type of skin problem which mostly affects children accompanied by severe itching, red rashes and dry skin and it is not contagious. The condition eases with time. The most likely causes of Atopic Dermatitis [Eczema] are:

Dry and sensitive skin, personal or family history of allergies and asthma and generally all forms of allergic response to certain factors like stress, foods like egg, fish, wheat, milk, soy products, harsh soaps and detergents, Allergens [Animal protein], weather changes and any other skin infection may worsen the condition.

What is Contact Dermatitis? What are its causes?

As the name implies Contact Dermatitis happens when the skin comes in contact with an irritant and thereby causes rashes to appear on the skin. One touch or contact may not trigger this condition. Normally you will not know the duration of the contact but more than one touch is responsible for eruption. Usually it affects the skin on the hands and face. The triggers may be:

Poison ivy or Poison Oak [plants], hair dyes or straighteners, nickel, leather, latex rubber, peel of citrus fruits, fragrance in soaps, shampoos, perfumes and cleaners and cosmetics and certain skin creams. 

What are the symptoms of Contact and Atopic Dermatitis?

The symptoms of Contact Dermatitis are an Itching, redness, inflammation, dryness, thickening and cracking.

The symptoms of Atopic Dermatitis are severe Itching mostly at night and accompanied by rash.

Atopic Dermatitis can be limited to a small area of the skin or a larger area anywhere on the body,

In children the face, back, legs and arms may be affected. In adults the insides of elbows and knees are affected and it improves with age. 

How is Dermatitis diagnosed?

A visit to your doctor may involve a physical examination to check whether the condition is simple rash or a case of Dermatitis. The doctor may take into consideration the severity and occurrence and the area of occurrence. Family and medical history may be asked. If it is diagnosed at this stage then, medication may help but if the condition worsens then you may have to visit a Dermatologist who is a skin specialist and who may after physical examination and other details, advise certain tests like skin culture test, oozing liquid from the infection may be sent for lab testing and certain blood tests for other underlying conditions may be prescribed.

What is the line of treatment for Contact and Atopic Dermatitis?

There are 2 types of Contact Dermatitis: Irritant and Allergic.

Irritant Dermatitis is caused by soaps and detergents and the best remedy is to avoid their use or wash with lots of water and apply soft moisturizing creams. In severe cases medication will improve the condition.

Allergic Dermatitis: May be caused by allergens which have to be identified and the exposure to them is to be reduced to avoid allergic reaction. Simple medications and soothing creams may ease the condition and if not then please consult your doctor.

Atopic Dermatitis: Can be treated by keeping the skin moisturized, Avoid hot water bath and try lukewarm baths, avoiding of allergens, medicines like antifungal, anti bacterial creams and certain Corticosteroidal creams and taking of Antihistamines only when prescribed by doctor.

Avoiding of Stress is very important.

Is Dermatitis preventable? Is it fatal?

Dermatitis can be treated effectively but it cannot be prevented. As Dermatitis happens due to the presence of many factors like allergens and irritants, the avoidance of such factors can ease the condition as long as you are not exposed to it and if there is a genetic disposition then you have to be careful and avoid the triggers. Dermatitis is not fatal but if it is the result of some other underlying serious condition then it can be life threatening.

Some of the Dermatitis are age related and disappear gradually. So identification of the cause is important.

Most important is the approach towards any condition. If you have a strong positive approach and refuse to be run down by any disease or condition then you can emerge out of it, or successfully manage and control the same.

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