Dermatitis is the inflammation of the skin which commonly presents as reddened skin and itchy rash. This can be the result of several causes and occurs in various forms. This condition can affect about one in every five individuals at some point in their lives and can be acute or chronic. The acute form of dermatitis can rapidly develop as red rashes which can be swollen or blistered. The chronic form is the long term irritable area of the skin which appears to be thickened or scratched. It is believed that psychological stress is associated to aggravate dermatitis by suppressing the immune system. This condition is not contagious but can make an individual feel uncomfortable.

Some types of dermatitis

  • Allergic contact dermatitis develops when individuals have skin contact with various materials such as perfume, rubber, nickel or hair dye.
  • Atopic dermatitis mostly develops in children as inheritance seems to play an important role along with other conditions such as dry skin, immune system dysfunction and contributing environmental factors.
  • Gravitational dermatitis develops commonly among the elderly individuals as the result of poor functioning leg veins.
  • Nummular dermatitis can initially develop as the result of injury to the skin which occurs as coin-shaped irritable patches.
  • Irritant contact dermatitis is initiated by the skin contact of solvents, detergents or other chemicals.
  • Seborrheic dermatitis causes red skin, scaly patches and severe dandruff. It commonly occurs in the oily areas of the body such as the face and the back. This can often be a long-term problem with flare-ups. This is caused by the yeast in the oil secretion on the skin.


The diagnosis is normally determined after the examination of the affected part of the skin. A patch test is the common method of diagnosing dermatitis and involves the exposure of various substances in small quantities to the skin with an adhesive covering. This illustrates if any reaction to the substance has occurred. Additional tests may also be performed to rule out other possible causes.


The important aspect of treatment includes lowering the contributing factors of dermatitis such as reducing the number of bath or shower and by using mild detergent soap. It is also important to protect the skin from irritants such as solvents or detergents and by wearing soft smooth clothes. Other forms of treatment can include topical steroids on the affected areas, inflammatory creams and antihistamine tablets to reduce the irritation. Antibiotics may be necessary to treat the infection that can develop. Additional treatments can include systemic steroids or phototherapy which may be beneficial.

Lifestyle changes

  • Application of cool, wet compresses can smooth the skin
  • Scratching the affected area should be avoided
  • Choosing mild laundry detergent for materials that contact the skin such as towels, clothing and bed sheets
  • Moisturizing the skin regularly can benefit individuals with mild form of this condition
  • Relaxation techniques are essential as some types of dermatitis can flare up with emotional stress