Dermatitis : Causes, symptoms and treatments


Dermatitis is a skin inflammation characterized by red, dry and itchy skin. If the condition gets severe, it could also lead to painful cracks, crusty scales, and fluid filled blisters. There are many types of dermatitis and the diagnosis is done based on the category of dermatitis affecting the skin. The symptoms, as well as the treatment of these different types of dermatitis, are fairly similar.


Dermatitis is accompanied by skin inflammation, dryness, and itchiness. The affected part of the skin becomes red. The redness is usually limited to only the area that has been exposed to the irritant. People with dry skin and living in a dry environment can also experience scaly and encrusted skin, in which case, it is known as nummular dermatitis. If there is an occurrence of greasy, yellowish scales on the eyebrows and scalp, around the nose or behind the ears, the condition is known as seborrhoeic dermatitis. Sometimes, there is also an ulceration of the skin, especially in the lower legs and around the ankles. This could be indicative of the stasis dermatitis. Although the rashes are generally accompanied by itchiness, extreme and persistent itchiness could be indicative of atopic dermatitis. If the condition develops in infants, it is known as cradle cap.


The exact causes of dermatitis cannot be pinpointed. However, there are a number of factors that could possibly act as triggers for the condition. This includes the genetic and inherited factors. Usually, it is the cutaneous hypersensitivity that intensifies the sensation of itchiness. The skin condition also holds a high correlation with other atopic disorders such as hay fever and asthma. It has also been noticed that people who outgrew symptoms of dermatitis go on to develop hay fever and asthma. Although there is no evidence that one of these factors gives rise to the other, they have high chances of being related. A decrease in the filaggrin content in the skin is also noticed during the onset of the skin condition. During the infection, the affected person suffers a weakened immune system.


The common complications of dermatitis include

  • Asthma and hay fever, which is often preceded by eczema
  • Scaly sin accompanied by chronic itchiness
  • Other forms of skin infections
  • Development of the condition to irritant hand dermatitis, which could result in grave discomfort
  • Allergic contact dermatitis
  • Sleep deprivation due to itchiness


Dermatitis can heal by itself, even if treatment is not done. However, using medication and topical ointments could heal the skin faster. Scratching should be avoided as it could puncture the skin and lead to bigger infections. The affected area should be frequently cleaned with warm water and mild soap. Medicated creams like calamine lotion and hydrocortisone creams can be applied to provide relief from itchiness. Antihistamine drugs are taken if there is an allergic response causing intense itchiness. If the skin appears dry, petroleum jelly can be applied from time to time to soothe the area. If the rashes appear close to vital organs like eyes or mouth or cover a larger area on the skin, it is best to immediately consult a doctor.

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