Dermatitis is a general term for skin inflammation that shows the skin typically appearing dry, swollen, and red. The condition is not contagious and can have many causes.
Dermatitis can be uncomfortable for some, and itchiness of skin can range from mild to severe. Certain types of dermatitis can last a long time, while others may flicker, depending on the season, exposures, or stress. Some types of this skin inflammation are more common in children, and others are more common in adults. However, you may find relief from dermatitis with medications and topical creams.
Make an appointment with your doctor for an appointment if your skin is infected, painful, or uncomfortable or if your dermatitis is widespread or isn’t getting better.
What are the Symptoms of Dermatitis?
The main symptom of dermatitis is dry, red, itchy skin. There are many types of dermatitis, and symptoms can vary depending on the type of dermatitis you have.
In general, the symptoms of dermatitis may include:
- painful skin, with stinging or burning
- dry, cracked skin
- itchy skin
Types and Causes of Dermatitis
Here are the most common types of dermatitis:
Atopic dermatitis, or eczema, is usually inherited and develops right from infancy. Someone with Atopic dermatitis or eczema is likely to have rough patches of dry, itchy skin. Atopic dermatitis is caused by a combination of factors like dry skin, environmental setting, and bacteria on the skin. People with eczema often have a family history of eczema, allergies, or asthma.
This is caused by exposure to an irritant. It can be seen as an allergic reaction that typically shows up as a red, itchy rash that is limited to the area of skin exposed to the irritant substance. Common things that cause allergic reactions include detergents, cosmetics, nickel, poison ivy, and oak.
Neuro-dermatitis is similar to contact dermatitis and involves an itchy patch often triggered by stress or something irritating the skin.
Seborrheic dermatitis is known as cradle cap in infants. It is characterized by greasy, yellowish scales on the scalp and eyebrows, behind the ears, and around the nose. This type of dermatitis is likely caused by a fungus in the oil glands and tends to get worse in the spring and winter. Seborrheic dermatitis also appears to be genetic for some people.
This type of dermatitis causes scaling and swelling of the lower legs, and sometimes, ulcerated or open skin appears inside the lower legs and around the ankles. Stasis dermatitis mostly occurs due to poor circulation in the body, most commonly the lower legs and feet.
Nummular dermatitis is common in people who have dry skin or live in dry environments. It typically shows up as red, itchy, circular patches of weeping, scaly, or crusted skin.
Certain things can trigger dermatitis and cause symptoms to flare, such as irritating substances, stress, hormonal changes, and the environment, and some types, such as dyshidrotic eczema, neurodermatitis, and nummular dermatitis may have unknown causes.
Risk Factors for Dermatitis
Factors that increase your chances of getting dermatitis include:
- the environment
- a family history of dermatitis
- asthma, and
- other health conditions
Some risk factors increase your risk for certain types of dermatitis more than others and frequent washing and drying of hands will strip your skin’s protective oils and change its pH balance.