Skin Cares | Dermatitis — symptoms, types and treatment

Dermatitis is a medical condition where the skin becomes sore, swollen, and red, often with small blisters — resulting from irritation or an allergic reaction. The skin becomes itchy and may develop a crust or even flake off. Although dermatitis is a common condition, it isn’t contagious, but it’s uncomfortable and can make you feel self-conscious. This article will concentrate on atopic dermatitis otherwise known as eczema.

The Causes

Common triggers for people with very dry skin can vary from person to person. Cold and dry weather, damp and allergens such as dust mites and pet fur are all irritants that can set off an attack. Add detergents and soaps, bubble bath and washing up liquid to the list, and factor in food allergies to milk, eggs, peanuts, and wheat. Certain materials like wool and synthetic fabrics can aggravate the skin, and infections can make things worse. Bacteria, stress, and sweat can all be contributors.

The Symptoms

Atopic eczema is renowned for having flare up periods — these can happen as often as two or three times a month. During this period the areas of affected skin itch severely, and when scratched may leak fluid and crust over. Patches may appear on the hands, feet, ankles, wrists, neck, and upper chest which are red or brownish-grey in colour. Skin can thicken and become dry and cracked, and continual scratching causes skin to be raw and sensitive.

The Types

There are many types of dermatitis all with varying symptoms:

Stasis dermatitis — thickened red skin on ankles and shins with open sores that ooze and crust
Allergic contact dermatitis — red rash, bumps and blisters that itch and swell
Irritant contact dermatitis — dry, red patches that resemble burns, stinging and itching
Nuerodermatitis — leathery scaly patches of skin in a single limited area
Perioral dermatitis — small red pus-filled bumps appear around the mouth, cheeks and eyes
Seborrheic dermatitis — yellowish scales on the crust of the scalp, ears and face
- See more details on reputable medical websites.

The Management

The key to coping with atopic eczema is maintaining the skins barrier. A lukewarm wash is advisable as hot water strips away oils and dries the skin out which leads to more itching and irritation — pat the skin dry instead of rubbing. Avoid harsh soaps, deodorants and scented bubble baths, and moisturise well. The acute itching can be managed with anti-itch medication. Catch any secondary infections early — be aware of swelling and blisters. Opt for cotton clothing, and avoid wearing anything too tight. To reduce inflammation and heal the irritation of dermatitis, a doctor can prescribe a prescription corticosteroid cream and oral antihistamine to relieve severe itching.

The Home Remedies

Coconut oil can significantly reduce scaling and dryness within a few days — used daily before bedtime. An oatmeal bath helps to keep skin moisturised, and apple cider vinegar can also relieve inflammation and itchiness. Honey has antiseptic and anti-bacterial properties, and Aloe Vera has moisturising and antimicrobial assets. Vitamin E oil promotes healing, and also gives relief from itching and inflammation.