Dermatitis means inflammation of the skin, but the term itself is used to refer to a variety of sub-types of the condition. In many individuals, dermatitis results in patches of red, flaky, dry, and itchy skin. In more severe cases of dermatitis, patients may experience pus-filled sores that can crust over as well as excruciating skin fissures. Because a host of things can contribute to the irritation and inflammation of the skin, your physician will likely identify the specific dermatitis type that is affecting you despite the treatment options for most types of dermatitis being alike.
There are two main types of contact dermatitis: allergic contact dermatitis and irritant contact dermatitis.
Allergic contact dermatitis is caused by direct exposure to allergens such as cosmetics, self-care products containing harsh chemicals, plants like poison ivy, hair dyes, and some types of jewelry. Allergic contact dermatitis typically only affects the part of the skin that gets physically exposed to an allergen, causing red, inflamed, and itchy bumps and sometimes oozing and crusty blisters.
Irritant contact dermatitis forms upon the skin getting in contact with an irritant such as certain cleaning products like bleach and harsh soaps, as well as beauty products. It takes some individuals one exposure to an irritant to develop a strong reaction, whereas others may begin experiencing reactions to an irritant after long-term, continuous contact with it. Exposure to an irritant usually causes a reaction with symptoms such as red, dry, raised, and itchy burn-like patches where the skin is exposed to the irritant.
Also commonly known as eczema, atopic dermatitis is characterized by patches of itchy, flaky, and inflamed skin. Atopic dermatitis is thought to be hereditary and also closely linked to asthma, allergies, and too much stress. It is also believed that a defective skin barrier that releases too much moisture and hosts germs too easily may also play an important role.
Seborrheic dermatitis develops in the oil-producing parts of the body, primarily the scalp, face, and chest. It is also known as dandruff when it appears on the scalp as dry flakes. The primary symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis are yellowish, oily flakes on the scalp, face, ears, and other oily parts of the body. It can also cause redness and itching.
This type of dermatitis causes coin-sized red patches that most typically appear on the hands, arms, legs, and trunk. Nummular dermatitis affects men more than women. The condition usually presents itself between the ages of 55-65 and appears to be triggered by dry climates and taking hot showers too often.
Poor circulation in the lower limbs can cause stasis dermatitis, which is why this type of dermatitis is most common among individuals conditions that result in chronic inflammation of the legs such as varicose veins and congestive heart failure. Veins found in the lower legs cannot circulate blood properly, leading to a fluid buildup that causes inflammation. This inflammation, in turn, irritates the skin, particularly in the ankles.
Featured Image: Depositphotos/© stokkete