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What is Dermatitis?

Dermatitis Definition- Let us begin to first answer the question of what dermatitis is. Dermatitis meaning according to the dermatitis definition biology is basically a general term for skin inflammation. When the skin is inflamed in case of dermatitis, the skin becomes dry and swells and looks scaly, swollen, and red. 

There are many types of dermatitis and depending on the types of dermatitis classification one has, the causes vary. The study of the skin or the dermal layer of the skin which is affected and the medicinal science that deals with this are called dermatology. A dermatologist is one who specialises in dermatology and also manages diseases related to hair, nails, and some cosmetic problems. Now that we have defined dermatitis and understood the meaning let us understand the types, causes, symptoms and treatment needed. Dermatitis, however, is not contagious.

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Types of Dermatitis

The dermatitis classification can be divided into various forms based on the duration of it affecting the skin, based on the location of the area affected and the more common ones and the rare ones. Dermatitis is also grouped and referred to as eczema. 

Dermatitis Classification

Type of Dermatitis 

Dermatitis Meaning

Short term


The skin is rashy and itchy and becomes red that lasts for a very short period and goes away easily. 

Long Term

Atopic Dermatitis

Eczema are rough patches of dry and itchy skin that are developed mostly at an infancy stage but can also occur later in life and lasts for quite a long time. Often accompanied by asthma and hay fever making skin red. 

Common Types of Dermatitis

Contact Dermatitis

This kind of dermatitis is divided into 2 types: allergic dermatitis that occurs as a delayed allergic reaction to Balsam of Peru, ivory or nickel and irritant dermatitis that occurs due to reaction to sodium lauryl sulfate in detergents and as a reaction to many such substances.

Seborrhoeic Dermatitis 

Flaky scales and itchy rashes appear on the skin due to dryness and this type of skin condition is seen on the scalp and is also called cradle cap and dandruff.  

Dyshidrotic dermatitis

Mainly occurs in the feet and palms, when the skin fails to protect itself these areas become itchy, rough and dry.

Rare types of Dermatitis

Stasis Dermatitis 

Skin changes due to poor blood circulation due to chronic venous chronic insufficiency leads to stasis dermatitis and causes ulcers, inflammation, and itchy skin. 

Nummular Dermatitis 

After a skin injury, when it leads to oval sores on the skin it is called nummular dermatitis.  

Dermatitis  Herpetiformis

This type is related to celiac disease and causes intense itchiness and rash on arms, thighs, knees, and back typically symmetrical which gets worse during the night time. 


Often triggered by stress leads to patchy skin.

Dermatitis Neglecta

When one leads an unhygienic lifestyle and does not care for skin health, it leads to plaques which are dark, waxy patches that may be slightly raised. The skin may also appear inflamed, and irritated.

Causes of Dermatitis

There can be many reasons that cause dermatitis or causes and the same cause may lead to severe symptoms in some and milder in others. 

  • Rough or coarse fabric can irritate the skin so one must dress seasonally and cotton is advised more often. 

  • Feeling too hot or cold and not protecting the skin from is also a leading cause of dermatitis or eczema.

  • Household products like soap or detergent if there is any substance that one is allergic to then it causes dermatitis.

  • Respiratory infections, Animal dander, allergies and asthma and other allergic reactions.

  • Stress is a trigger for bad skin and overall bad health.

  • Sweating and not cleaning up after and having an unhygienic way of living is a disservice to the health. 

  • Hormonal changes with the change of stages in life also with diet and other factors affect the skin.

  • Age- with age skin is more vulnerable and sensitive to dermatitis.

  • Rapid environment changes 

  • Family history- if it is in one’s family line then the next generation is more likely to be affected by it.

  • Health conditions, if one is unhealthy then all sorts of diseases affect the individual.

Dermatitis Symptoms

In the condition of dermatitis, skin often experiences a red rash, itching, which may be severe, dry, cracked, scaly skin, bumps and blisters, sometimes with oozing and crusting, swelling, burning or tenderness. The initial signs and symptoms are usually seen in the neck region, inside the elbows, behind the knees and other such flexes one must be aware of such signs of the body. All of this can also increase if proper care is not taken.

Treatment of Dermatitis

Proper care must be taken and given the necessary attention to this condition and there is a high chance it will be healed, if not, the following steps may be recommended by the dermatologist.

  • Medications like an antihistamine such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) are recommended to reduce allergies and itching, phototherapy, or exposing affected areas to controlled amounts of light.

  • For the short term, immunosuppressants are also recommended like tacrolimus and pimecrolimus. 

  • To relieve itchiness and inflammation a steroid containing topical creams, like hydrocortisone is given. 

  • Creams or lotions for dry skin are the best way to moisturize the skin and keep the patchiness and flakiness at bay.

  • To relieve itching. oatmeal baths are also beneficial and recommended by the dermatologist.

  • Limited exposure to light also called light therapy or phototherapy is very popular and effective for one suffering from dermatitis.


Washing and cleaning up is vital for overall health. To keep the skin healthy and free from eczema or dermatitis along with usage of good moisturizers, having a bath daily a proper lifestyle by eliminating unnecessary food intake, having omega-rich food and exercises to keep the skin supple, radiant and healthy-looking also plays a major part. 

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FAQs on Dermatitis

Q1. Does One Need to Avoid the Sun in Case of Dermatitis?

Ans. Sun exposure is a highly debatable topic in any type of skin condition and there are many suggestions about the dos and don’ts. It is important to note that for some on being exposed to the sun the skin condition improves and for others it worsens. The problems are individualistic and specific so the consequential effects are also different from the other. And anything over the limit is harmful so do not overdo it as it might flare up the skin and can cause further damage.

Q2. How to Wash the Face in Case of Dermatitis?

Ans. Dermatitis is a skin condition that affects the face. You might find it more irritable and become impatient with your skincare routine. Do not be in a rush and understand the problems and treat them accordingly. The face should be clean but you must not be harsh and rub it continuously. It is important to avoid products that irritate your skin.  Wash the face gently with an appropriate cleanser that is professionally recommended.

Q3. Will Dermatitis Ever Go Away Completely?

Ans. Dermatitis is treatable and once it loses contact with the surface of the skin upon proper treatment with medicine and care, it goes away. In milder cases, the condition subsides and completely goes away on its own. There are many triggers of dermatitis like stress and environmental changes so ensure to avoid them. Also, avoid scratching the affected area and get professional help if it is severe. 

Q4. Is Dermatitis Contagious?

Ans. Dermatitis that is of contact type only spreads when you are in close proximity or contact with the allergic substance that does not suit you or you are allergic to. The allergen source can be different for each individual and it does not transfer from one affected person to another and hence not contagious. 

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