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Dermatitis

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Dermatitis is the result of inflammation and irritation of the skin. While commonly referred to as eczema, dermatitis can occur as many various types of skin irritation and comes from various causes. Dermatitis is not contagious and is not in anyway life threatening. It is an annoyance for most patients. Many patients feel it affects their self image and they find it embarrassing enough to be in uncomfortable clothing to avoid exposing their skin in social or professional situations.

DERMATITIS SYMPTOMS

There are various types of dermatitis which include contact dermatitis, atopic dermatitis, perioral dermatitis, neurodermatitis, stasis dermatitis, and seborrheic dermatitis. Patients with any form of dermatitis tend to experience redness of the skin, itching, rashes, swelling of the skin, flaking of the skin, skin lesions, and sometimes scaling of the skin. Dermatitis can be present anywhere on the body, most often the arms, torso, back, and neck, but can include the legs, face, inside the ears, on the eyelids, and the buttocks.

DERMATITIS CAUSES

There are as many varying causes for dermatitis as there are forms of dermatitis. Direct contact dermatitis is a skin irritation that is brought on by direct contact with an allergen, most often nickel, weeds, perfumes, cosmetics, neomycin, and jewelry, and can be stubborn and refuse to subside.
Dermatitis
Image: Dermatitis


Neurodermatitis tend to develop where something has rubbed or irritated the skin such as tight clothing, backpacks, purse straps, or other tight irritants that may rub against the skin during normal movement.

Atopic dermatitis in known to run in families that have hay fever or other allergies. It begins in infancy and worsens through late childhood and adolescence, and then becomes a bit milder again in adulthood.

Perioral dermatitis is linked with adult acne as well as rosacea, and has no identifiable cause. Makeup, dental products containing fluoride, and other common irritants may be a factor.

Stassis dermatitis occurs when fluid develops under the skin. Varicose veins and other skin condition can be a side effect on top of the skin discomfort and itching. This dermatitis typically affects the lower legs.

Seborrheic dermatitis is marked by a red rash with a yellow and oily scale. It is seen most commonly in patients with typically oily skin and hair and can be influenced by stress, travel, and other controllable factors.

Patch testing may be done on the skin when determining what type of dermatitis the patient is describing and what substances irritate the skin. Most patients can self diagnose dermatitis, although some patients become fearful the sudden change in their skin may be related to a serious illness. Dermatitis is something a physician can recognize on sight.
Skin disease
Image: Skin Disease

DERMATITIS COMPLICATIONS

Complications related to dermatitis include sores that are scratched open invite infection and scarring. Impetigo can develop, which is caused by a bacterium that infects the skin and requires treatment to get rid of. However, the psychological complications can include hampered self esteem, feelings of embarrassment, an unwillingness to participate in fun activities due to skin exposure such as pool parties and beach outings, and a feeling of chronic anxiety.

Cellulitis can occur in patients with dermatitis, especially those with a weakened immune system. It is marked by red streaks on the skin and is caused by bacteria. Cellulitis produces skin that is sensitive and warm to the touch, swollen, red, tender, and spreads without margins. Cellulitis requires medical attention.

DERMATITIS TREATMENT

Dermatitis is usually treated by identifying the triggers for the skin and learning to avoid coming in contact with those triggers. Of course, not all patients will be sensitive to avoidable substances and may require medication. There are over the counter creams and antibacterial creams for infected skin. Prescription medications are often prescribed to reduce inflammation and prevent scarring. Medications such as Elidel and Protopic have been proven successful at clearing up dermatitis, but have risks and complications of their own which may outweigh the benefits, depending on the patient. These medications are only designed for cases which have been ineffectively treated with other options.

Patients should be encouraged to avoid scratching as much as possible, reduce sweating by remaining in cool areas and dressing appropriately for the weather, to avoid irritants, and to wear smooth, cotton clothing that is comfortable, lightweight, and won’t irritate the skin.
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