5 Types of Dermatitis: Symptoms and Solutions

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Dermatitis appears in many forms- some of which can be a bit difficult to decode. Is it a rash? Hives? Simple irritation? Here is my guide to help decipher different types of dermatitis.

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is also known as eczema and is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that can occur anywhere on the body but is mostly predominant on the neck, inner arms, or backs of knees. Atopic dermatitis flares up occasionally and may have dormant states where it’s nearly invisible. The cause of this skin disorder is unknown but is related to stress, asthma and immune system dysfunction. Atopic dermatitis can be extremely itchy and appears red and flaky. Persons affected by this skin disorder should not use harsh soaps or cleansers, can use hydrocortisone creams to soothe the area, and use healing ointments to promote skin repair.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis

Allergic contact dermatitis is the type of dermatitis caused by an allergen. Allergens can include perfume, cosmetics, hair color, weeds such as poison oak or poison ivy, metals, rubber and other synthetics. This type of dermatitis can occur anywhere on the body, depending on the contact with the allergen. The irritation resolves in two to three weeks. Irritation can be alleviated with the use of soothing topical ointments.

Irritant Contact Dermatitis

Similar to allergic contact dermatitis, irritant contact dermatitis is caused by synthetic irritants such as soap, detergents/fabric softeners or other synthetics. Irritant contact dermatitis is characterized by red, itchy, dry patches which bear a resemblance to a burn. This type of dermatitis resolves on its own within two to three weeks. Irritation can be alleviated with the use of soothing topical ointments.

Perioral Dermatitis

Perioral dermatitis occurs on the face and usually affects the areas around the mouth and chin. Perioral dermatitis may have a rosacea-like look and is characterized by red bumps, itchy skin, flaky skin and pus-filled bumps. To treat perioral dermatitis a gentle antibacterial wash and soothing ointment may be used. Acne medication may be used on the bumps as well. There is no known cause of perioral dermatitis but irritants such as harsh cleansers, detergents, make-up, or fluoride products may be the culprit.

Seborrheic Dermatitis

One of the most common forms of dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis occurs on oily areas of the body such as the face, upper chest, and back. It can also appear on the scalp as dandruff and in infants as cradle cap. Seborrheic dermatitis is characterized by greasy flakes, itchy skin, redness and inflammation. Seborrheic dermatitis can be treated with medicated shampoos that contain coal tar, and with anti-inflammatory topical preparations, soothing ointments and hydrocortisone cream. 

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