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Notes on Dermatitis

Dermatitis is an umbrella term for many different types of skin inflammation (including eczema). It’s characterised by rash-like formations, which are often coupled with itchiness, dryness, redness and swelling. While dermatitis isn’t contagious, it can certainly be uncomfortable. Some types of dermatitis tend to only appear momentarily (such as those caused by an allergic reaction) while others can linger for much longer, flaring up in response to triggers such as stress levels, fluctuating hormones or even seasonal changes. Below are a few of the most common types of dermatitis:

Atopic dermatitis
This is another term for eczema, a genetic skin condition that first appears during childhood, but it can last a lifetime and flare up at any age. Eczema is typically characterised by extremely itchy and dry skin, though this reaction is caused by a hypersensitivity to allergens found in dyes, fabrics, beauty products, soaps and animal dander. Eczema can also be stress-induced or a side effect of an immune disorder.

Contact dermatitis
The result of an allergic reaction, this form of dermatitis occurs when your skin comes into contact with something it doesn’t agree with such as certain skincare or cosmetics products, plants, certain soaps and detergents and some metals. These irritations are usually itchy, sting or burn and can result in dry skin with a red rash

Perioral dermatitis
This form of dermatitis affects the mouth area and is sometimes confused with acne as it can appear similar, perioral dermatitis is characterised as a red, itchy rash with swollen and inflamed swollen bumps. 

Seborrheic dermatitis
Generally affecting the scalp, seborrheic dermatitis affects areas of the skin that have hair follicles and is most likely to crop up on parts of the body where there are a lot of sebaceous glands, which produce sebum (or oil). This can result in a red rash, itchy skin and dandruff.

Treatment tips
If you suspect you may have dermatitis, especially a severe case I’d recommend seeing a dermatologist or doctor who may prescribe medication or topical creams to relieve your symptoms. The most effective treatment for treating dermatitis including eczema is topical cortisone. It’s also best to avoid active ingredients and soaps with alcohol and anything that could further disrupt the skin barrier. Incorporate moisturisers that are formulated for sensitive skin types and apply multiple times a day to make sure the skin remains super hydrated. Try taking an oatmeal bath to alleviate itchiness and swelling: just add half a cup of ground rolled oats to a warm (not hot) bath. You can also try a cold compress to help with any swelling or irritation. Wet a muslin cloth, place it in the fridge or freezer for a few moments and apply to the skin. Double-check that you’re not using any products that contain harsh alcohols or stripping ingredients that could further inflame your dermatitis.