Dermatitis is a common condition that occurs when the skin becomes inflamed. It usually involves an itchy rash on swollen reddened skin. Dermatitis can cause skin changes such as blistering, oozing, developing crusts or flaking. Examples of dermatitis include atopic dermatitis (eczema), dandruff, and rashes caused by poison ivy, soaps and others. Individuals who suffer from dermatitis must identify and avoid substances that can cause attacks.  A combination of self-care steps and medications such as steroid creams and antibiotics, can help treat dermatitis.



Signs and symptoms of dermatitis may include:

  • Red itchy rash
  • Crusting or flaking of the skin
  • Swelling or oozing of the skin
  • Blisters



There are a number of health conditions and factors that can cause triggering of different types of dermatitis. Dermatitis usually occurs when the skin comes into direct contact with an irritant and causes damage to the outer layer of the skin. When this happens, redness, itching, burning and a stinging sensation of the skin can occur.  Different types of dermatitis include:

  • Atopic dermatitis (eczema): A form of dermatitis that involves a mix of dry skin, a gene variation, a weakened immune system, bacteria on the skin and environmental conditions.
  • Contact dermatitis: A form of dermatitis that results from contact with many irritants such as such as poison ivy, jewelry containing nickel, perfumes, soaps and others.
  • Seborrheic dermatitis: A form of dermatitis that may be caused by a yeast (fungus)  in the oil secretion on the skin.


Some of the most common irritants that can cause dermatitis include:

  • Soaps and detergents
  • Perfumes or cosmetics
  • Acids and alkalis
  • Dust and soil
  • Cement
  • Disinfectants
  • Oils used in machines


Risk factors 

Factors associated with an increased risk of dermatitis include:

  • Age: dermatitis can occur in any age group
  • Allergies and asthma: having a personal history of allergies, hay fever or asthma
  • Profession: being in contact with metals, cleaning products, solvents
  • Medical conditions: Congestive heart failure, Parkinson’s disease, HIV infection



Complications arising from scratching the itchy rash associated with dermatitis can cause:

  • Infected open sores
  • Spreading of the skin infections
  • Itchy and irritable skin



A few recommendations for preventing dermatitis may include:

  • Avoiding dry skin by using moisturizer products
  • Using unscented products (mild soaps) 
  • Taking shorter baths or showers
  • Gently drying the skin with a soft towel
  • Wearing loose fitting clothing
  • Avoiding identified triggers such as platted jewelry
  • Using a humidifier at work and at home to keep the air from getting dry