Dermatitis is a chronic skin condition that usually involves an inflammation of the skin, resulting in itchy, red, swollen skin. Dermatitis manifests itself in several forms, perhaps the most common being seborrheic dermatitis and the most severe being atopic dermatitis (or eczema). Although the condition is not life-threatening or contagious, it nonetheless causes discomfort and self-consciousness for sufferers. However, self-care and medication can make dermatitis much more manageable.
Dermatitis generally refers to a skin inflammation. However, there are several different types, including contact dermatitis, neurodermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, stasis dermatitis, atopic dermatitis and perioral dermatitis.
While the cause of dermatitis isn't entirely clear, there are several factors doctors believe increase a person's susceptibility to dermatitis. These factors include stress, allergens, harsh soaps, drastic weather changes, a weak immune system and a family history of allergies, including hay fever and asthma.
Depending on the type of dermatitis, the symptoms will manifest themselves in varying forms. The common signs include itching, redness, skin lesions and swelling. Other symptoms include a rash, the buildup of fluids under the skin and bumps.
Unfortunately, dermatitis is a chronic skin condition for which there is no cure. You may have periods of remission, which may last weeks, months or even years, but flare-ups that last for weeks or months will occur repeatedly.
The most common treatment for all kinds of dermatitis is the application of hydrocortisone or steroidal creams. Depending on the location of the dermatitis, treatment can also involve covering the affected area to prevent scratching and further irritation, cold and wet compresses, medicated shampoos, antihistamines, light therapy and oral antibiotics.
To prevent dermatitis or to lessen the severity, you can try bathing less often, taking warm showers, using mild soaps, not rubbing your skin with a towel when drying off and keeping your skin moisturized.
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