Dermatitis simply means skin inflammation, but it embraces a range of ailments. In most cases the early stages are characterized by red, itchy skin, although acute attacks may result in crusty scales or blisters that ooze fluid. Since many things can irritate the skin, a doctor will try to narrow the diagnosis to a specific category of dermatitis, even though treatment is similar for most types of skin irritation and inflammation.
Brief Overview :
The types of dermatitis include:
->Contact dermatitis typically causes the skin to develop a pink or red rash, which usually itches. Pinpointing the exact cause of contact dermatitis can be difficult. Among plants, the leading culprits are poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac, although contact with certain flowers, herbs, fruits, and vegetables can cause dermatitis in some people.
-> Nummular dermatitis consists of distinctive coin-shaped red plaques that are most commonly seen on the legs, hands, arms, and torso. It is more common in men than women and the peak age of onset is between 55 and 65. Living in a dry environment or taking frequent very hot showers can cause this condition.
-> Atopic dermatitis or Eczema, causes the skin to itch, scale, swell, and sometimes blister. This type of eczema usually runs in families and is often associated with allergies, asthma, and stress.
-> Seborrheic dermatitis consists of greasy, yellowish, or reddish scaling on the scalp and other hairy areas, as well as on the face or genitals, and in skin creases along the nose, under the breasts, and elsewhere. This condition is called cradle cap in infants. It may be aggravated by stress.
-> Stasis dermatitis is caused by poor circulation in the legs and can happen in people with varicose veins, congestive heart failure, or other conditions which result in chronic leg swelling. Veins in the lower legs fail to return blood efficiently, causing pooling of blood and fluid buildup and edema. This leads to irritation, especially around the ankles.
Contact dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin caused by direct contact with an irritating or allergy-causing substance (irritant / allergen). Reactions may vary in the same person over time. A history of any type of allergies increases the risk for this condition.
Irritant dermatitis, the most common type of contact dermatitis, involves inflammation resulting from contact with acids, alkaline materials such as soaps and detergents, solvents, or other chemicals. The reaction usually resembles a burn.
Allergic contact dermatitis, the second most common type of contact dermatitis, is caused by exposure to a substance or material to which you have become extra sensitive or allergic. The allergic reaction is often delayed, with the rash appearing 24 - 48 hours after exposure. The skin inflammation varies from mild irritation and redness to open sores, depending on the type of irritant, the body part affected, and your sensitivity.
Overtreatment dermatitis is a form of contact dermatitis that occurs when treatment for another skin disorder causes irritation.
Common allergens associated with contact dermatitis include:
- Poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac
- Other plants
- Nickel or other metals
- Antibiotics, especially those applied to the surface of the skin (topical)
- Topical anesthetics
- Other medications
- Rubber or latex
- Fabrics and clothing
- Fragrances, perfumes
- Other chemicals and substances
Some products cause a reaction only when they contact the skin and are exposed to sunlight (photosensitivity). These include shaving lotions, sunscreens, sulfa ointments, some perfumes, coal tar products, and oil from the skin of a lime. A few airborne allergens, such as ragweed or insecticide spray, can cause contact dermatitis.
- Itching (pruritus) of the skin in exposed areas
- Skin redness or inflammation in the exposed area
- Tenderness of the skin in the exposed area
- Localized swelling of the skin
- Warmth of the exposed area (may occur)
- Skin lesion or rash at the site of exposure
- Lesions of any type: redness, rash, papules (pimple-like), vesicles, and bullae (blisters)
- May involve oozing, draining, or crusting
- May become scaly, raw, or thickened
Exams and TestsThe diagnosis is primarily based on the skin appearance and a history of exposure to an irritant or an allergen.
Patch testing is used for patients who have chronic, recurring contact dermatitis. It requires three office visits and must be done by a clinician with detailed experience in the procedures and interpretation of results. On the first visit, small patches of potential allergens are applied to the skin. These patches are removed 48 hours later to see if a reaction has occurred. A third visit approximately 2 days later is to evaluate for any delayed reaction. You should bring suspected materials with you, especially if you have already tested those materials on a small area of your skin and noticed a reaction.
Other tests may be used to rule out other possible causes, including skin lesion biopsy or culture of the skin lesion (see skin or mucosal biopsy culture).
TreatmentInitial treatment includes thorough washing with lots of water to remove any trace of the irritant that may remain on the skin. You should avoid further exposure to known irritants or allergens.
In some cases, the best treatment is to do nothing to the area.
Corticosteroid skin creams or ointments may reduce inflammation. Carefully follow the instructions when using these creams, because overuse, even of low-strength over-the-counter products, may cause a troublesome skin condition.- In severe cases, systemic corticosteroids may be needed to reduce inflammation. These are usually tapered gradually over about 12 days to prevent recurrence of the rash. In addition to or instead of corticosteroid skin treatment, your doctor may prescribe tacrolimus ointment or pimecrolimus cream.
Wet dressings and soothing anti-itch (antipruritic) or drying lotions may be recommended to reduce other symptoms.
PrognosisContact dermatitis usually clears up without complications within 2 or 3 weeks, but may return if the substance or material that caused it cannot be identified or avoided. A change of occupation or occupational habits may be necessary if the disorder is caused by occupational exposure.
Possible ComplicationsSecondary bacterial skin infections may occur.
When to Contact a Medical ProfessionalCall your health care provider if symptoms indicate contact dermatitis and it is severe or there is no improvement after treatment.
PreventionAvoid contact with known allergens. Use protective gloves or other barriers if contact with substances is likely or unavoidable. Wash skin surfaces thoroughly after contact with substances. Avoid overtreating skin disorders.
Pediatric Contact Dermatitis http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/911711-overview
Patch testing essential for allergic children http://www.gponline.com/News/article/1109549/Patch-testing-essential-allergic-children/
Housewife’s eczema http://www.koreaherald.com/national/Detail.jsp?newsMLId=20111222000835