Dermatology Information and Resources
Dermatitis is an inflammatory skin condition with a variety of forms and causes. Dermatitis is the main cause of skin irritation, covering a range of symptoms. The most common forms are: Atopic dermatitis (eczema) is normally present from early childhood and can flare up as a result of genetic and environmental factors. Contact dermatitis is a condition where the skin comes in contact with an irritant or allergen causing symptoms to occur. Seborrheic dermatitis impacts the upper body such as the face, upper chest and back. In infants, this disorder is known as cradle cap.
Common symptoms: Most forms of dermatitis are characterized by redness, raised leathery patches of skin, persistent itching, bumps, dryness, cracked skin, scaly skin, skin discoloration, crusty skin, blisters, swelling, sores, stiffness, burning sensations, and/or pain. Dandruff in adults or cradle cap in infants are also considered forms of dermatitis.
Causes: In the case of atopic dermatitis (eczema), genetics play a huge role as most with eczema have condition from birth. Several environmental factors do exacerbate the condition, however, such as a dry climate, immune system deficiencies, bacteria on the skin, and an inflammatory diet among others. Contact dermatitis results from direct contact with an allergen or irritant causing inflamed skin reaction. Many products and chemicals can irritate the skin such as cosmetics, soap, laundry detergent, or cleaning products. Some plants, such as poison oak cause bad reactions, as do some forms of metals. Seborrheic dermatitis may be caused by yeast overproduction that is present in the skin.
Treatment: A doctor may recommend patch testing to diagnose dermatitis, which is the testing of a small patch of skin to determine its reacting to various substances. Dermatitis sufferers should avoid harsh soaps, chemicals, skin products, and other irritants that may cause flare ups. Keeping the skin moisturized 1-2 times per day is also key and in dry climates, investing in a quality humidifier can keep the skin from drying out frequently. Dermatitis can be also be treated with topical corticosteroid creams and lotions containing colloidal oatmeal. Avoiding allergens or using antihistamines such as cetirizine (Zyrtec) or fexofenadine (Allegra), or diphenhydramine (Benadryl), can help ease dermatitis symptoms that are triggered by allergic reactions. Changes in diet may also impact the frequency of dermatitis flare ups. Switching to an anti-inflammatory diet, or one more compatible with helping digestion along had been known to improve skin conditions.