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MAIN Arrow to Health Health Arrow to Rashes Rashes Arrow to Dermatitis Dermatitis

Dermatitis rash
Typical red rash caused
by nummular dermatitis.

Dermatitis is a blanket term which simply means simply an inflammation of the skin, or put more simply, a rash.

Similar to eczema, the common cause that links all the varied forms of dermatitis is that is usually derives from some sort of allergen, which means the rash is usually some sort of allergic reaction.

In all, there are as many as nine different types of dermatitis, all with their own specific symptoms and causes.

Dermatitis causes & symptoms

The causes of dermatitis vary widely. Generally, dermatitis is caused by either mental or physical stress, allergens, previous health conditions, genetic factors, environmental causes such as irritants found in poison ivy, or some combination of causes.

Generally, the symptoms of dermatitis are itchy patches of skin which usually become swollen and red. and are usually area specific. For example, seborrheic dermatitis (which is often called 'cradle cap' in infants) is a condition which affects the scalp and can cause dandruff in adults, while perioral dermatitis is a bumpy rash which affects the skin surrounding the mouth.

Other forms of the condition include nummular dermatitis which usually shows up on hands, arms, legs and torso in the form of circular red disks of inflammation, (and usually caused by an excessively hot or dry environment) as well as stasis dermatitis or when the skin begins to break down due to poor circulation especially seen in the legs and ankles of patients suffering from heart disease.

Examples of dermatitis

cradle cap
Seborrheic dermatitis
(cradle cap)
poison ivy rash
Contact dermatitis
(poison ivy rash)
stasis dermatitis
Stasis dermatitis caused
by poor leg circulation.

also see -> Rash Picture Gallery | Eczema | Rosacea | Roseola

Dermatitis treatment

Dermatitis treatment varies widely based on a patient's particular conditon. Often, it is simply a matter of finding the cause of the dermatitis and removing it. For many forms of dermatitis, topical treatments are available which will help treat symptoms. For some forms of dermatitis such as perioral dermatitis, the treatment is usually more involved and can even involve prescribed antibiotics as well as steroid creams.

For all dermatitis types, scratching itchy areas should always be avoided to prevent aggravating the rash, which only slows down the healing process.

Preventing dermatitis once it has been treated is usually a matter of avoiding whatever caused the initial condition. Dry skin should also be avoided, and steps such as using milder soaps and moisturizers should be taken to prevent additional outbreaks.

More information about dermatitis around the Web:

Merck Manual - Dermatitis
- Find an expert overview with information on dermatitis in all its forms with facts on causes, symptoms and treatment.

Understanding Dermatitis -- the Basics - Check out this WebMD guide to the most common forms of dermatitis, their causes and treatment.


This information is intended as reference and not as medical advice.
All treatment decisions should be made by medical professionals.


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