Dermatitis is defined as inflammation of the skin. It is characterized as a reddened and itchy rash without any distinct borders. The appearance of the rash is based on the length of time it has been present:
- Acute – presence of blisters
- Sub-acute – scaling and crusting
- Chronic – lichenification
What are the types of dermatitis?
There are various forms of dermatitis differentiated by the root cause of the mechanism responsible for the rash.
Allergic contact dermatitis is a specific form which is due to a delayed hypersensitivity reaction involving antibodies and allergens.
- Irritant contact dermatitis is another form that is triggered by exposure to irritating chemicals.
- Atopic is an allergic-type reaction accompanied by asthma, hay fever and dry skin
Other forms of dermatitis include the following:
- Stasis – forms on the lower legs and ankles of individuals with venous insufficiency
- Diaper dermatitis – triggered by prolonged exposure of the skin to soiled diapers
- Seborrheic – yellowish, greasy scales form on the scalp as well as on the neck or the upper chest
- Nummular – coin-shaped patches that can form in any part of the body
- Dyshidrotic – forms on the hands or feet characterized by redness, scaling and deep blisters
- Lichen simplex chronicus – rash caused by prolonged scratching of the site that leads to thickened skin
- Autosensitization – a prickly rash develops as a reaction to an serious inflammatory course in the body
Management of dermatitis
Dermatitis is ideally managed once the specific form is determined. Nevertheless, there are measures that can be used to lessen the symptoms.
- Generally, it is vital to keep the skin properly moisturized. Remember that dry skin can lead to cracks in the external layer which inhibits the barrier function of the skin. The itchiness and urge to scratch can be lessened by applying topical medications or antihistamines.
- Avoid exposure to irritating and drying substances such as detergents or perfumes.
- Other rashes such as fungal infections must be treated.
- Topical steroids are often given to manage dermatitis. These drugs are available in varying strengths and can trigger side effects.