Dermatitis is a general term which means skin inflammation. It can be an acute condition where it only lasts for a few days, or it can be chronic, which can continue for months or years. Dermatitis is usually characterised by itchy, red, dry skin. Chronically, it can lead to rough, thick skin and painful cracks in the skin.
This is an irritation/allergic reaction caused by substances that have come in contact with the skin.
- Types of allergens: Nickel (eg. jewellery) perfumes, latex.
- Types of irritants: Detergents, soaps, and chemicals. Irritant contact dermatitis often occurs on a persons’ hands and is related to his or her job.
“Dermatitis can be an acute condition where it only lasts for a few days, or it can be chronic, which can continue for months or years.“
This type of dermatitis may be inherited and often occurs in people with a family history of eczema, asthma or hay fever. It usually begins in early childhood, and often affects the face, neck and creases of the elbows, wrists, knees and ankles. This condition can also flare-up because of stress, allergies, dry skin, and weather changes.
Skin moisturisers are very important. They help to relieve itch, prevent drying and cracking, and restore the skins’ protective role. These are to be applied especially after bathing, and make sure to not use perfumed products.
Corticosteroids relieve skin inflammation. Whilst topical preparations are the most common type of treatment, your doctor may prescribe you tablets if needed to control severe dermatitis.
Tar preparations are available from your pharmacist and can relieve inflammation and itch.
Antihistamines are available from your pharmacist and can relieve itching. Sedating antihistamines may be especially useful at night to help with sleep.
Immunosuppressants are prescription-only medication that weaken the immune system and may be needed to control severe chronic dermatitis.