Dermatitis is a general term that applies to quite a few skin conditions. In uncomplicated terms, dermatitis is a simple swelling and irritation of the skin. Dermatitis is sometimes confused with other skin conditions like eczema or even skin cancers or psoriasis. Just because a skin condition causes a rash, not all rashes are dermatitis as there could be a variety of factors which cause it.
Types and Appearance of Dermatitis
With a rash attributed to dermatitis, it can be itchy and red but the borders may or may not be clearly defined. The length of time you have the rash will cause a variety of appearances, which can help in identifying exactly what it is and how it can be treated.
There is an acute dermatitis which can produce blisters while the next stage called subacute dermatitis may have areas of the rash that crusts over or looks scaly. A chronic dermatitis will have a thickening of the skin as well as some of the other conditions.
As for the types of dermatitis, they can be determined by the cause of the skin condition in the first place. For example, babies typically have two types of dermatitis cradle cap and diaper rash. Formally called seborrheic dermatitis and diaper dermatitis, they are somewhat easy to determine as far as causes are concerned. Prolonged exposure to wet diapers causes the diaper version of dermatitis while the cradle cap is on the head of babies.
There is an irritant contact dermatitis which is often due to some type of detergent or chemical coming into contact with your skin. With allergic contact dermatitis, your skin is having an allergic reaction to some outside matter. Atopic dermatitis is a type of skin rash that often crops up as a result of other health conditions like asthma, super dry skin or even hay fever.
Plenty of types of dermatitis conditions exist, depending on the health and environmental circumstances. With another health conditions which compromises the immune system, you may have a tougher time resolving the dermatitis. For instance, if you have a fungal infection elsewhere on or in the body, you could develop the itchy rash of dermatitis as a result of the irritation and swelling from the other infection.
Before treating the dermatitis, the doctor will typically have to diagnose it definitively. A health history is taken as well as the timeline for the development of the dermatitis. By trying to pinpoint the dermatitis first appearance, you could trace back the cause. Skin tests can help in a diagnosis as well as a KOH test which signifies a fungal infection.
Treating the skin rash is always more successful when you know the cause of it. And if you dont know the exact cause, you can still treat the rash with a variety of things which can bring relief. For instance, you can moisturize your skin as much as possible to avoid cracking of the skin which could progress to dermatitis. Drinking plenty of water can keep your skin hydrated which in turn keeps the skin supple.
Steroids in a topical ointment can help treat dermatitis by reducing the swelling and inflammation of the rash. Except for over the counter hydrocortisone cream, topical steroids must be prescribed by a doctor. The bottom line is that you should always try to trace back the cause of the dermatitis in order to best treat the condition.