What Is Dermatitis?
Dermatitis means inflammation of the skin. However, it encompasses a range of ailments caused by different factors. This condition is typically characterized by dry, swollen, itchy, and red skin, and the good news is that this isn’t contagious.
The severity of dermatitis ranges from mild to severe; it may last a long time or may come as a sudden flare-up; some forms are more common in adults whereas others are more common in children. Some cases of dermatitis flare up according to seasons, exposure, or even stress.
What Are The Symptoms Of Dermatitis?
In dermatitis, the skin becomes dry, itchy, red and sometimes swollen. However, there are different types of dermatitis affecting different parts of the body and exhibit varying symptoms.
Types of dermatitis and their symptoms:
- Atopic dermatitis or eczema: Generally, children get atopic dermatitis in the first year. Skin becomes dry and has scaly patches. This may be seen on forehead, cheeks and scalp. Infants are often seen rubbing against the bedding to relieve themselves of the itching sensation. Sometimes excessive scratching can lead to skin infection.
- Contact dermatitis: We get this type of dermatitis when something touches our skin and we get a rash. It can either be an allergen which causes the rash (poison ivy, nickel, jewellery, makeup) or an irritant (diaper rash, acid, and soaps). The skin shows an allergic or irritant reaction when it comes in contact with some substances. The skin may develop burns, blisters or may just be itchy.
- Seborrheic dermatitis: This is commonly called cradle cap. Here the skin appears scaly and is greasy and reddish or yellowish in colour. This condition is seen in infants and appears on the scalp, face and genitals.
- Statis dermatitis: This is caused due to poor blood circulation in legs. This causes swelling and may further lead to skin irritation, especially around the ankles.
- Dyshidrotic eczema: This involves a group of skin problems in which the skin cannot protect itself which results in itchy, dry skin.
- Nummular dermatitis: This generally appears after the skin has had an injury like an insect bite, a burn or an abrasion. The skin develops coin or oval-shaped sores which last for weeks or months.
- Neurodermatitis: This condition begins with an itch on the skin of different parts of the body including genitals. Stress is believed to be the cause for this.
What Are The Causes Of Dermatitis?
Causes of dermatitis vary depending on the type of dermatitis.
- Contact dermatitis: Happens when a person comes in contact with an irritant or an allergen.
- Atopic dermatitis: This condition is caused by a combination of factors like environmental factors, dry skin, bacteria or genetic factors.
- Seborrheic dermatitis: This is due to the presence of yeast in oil glands of the skin and gets worse in spring and winter season. This may be genetic in some people.
- Statis dermatitis: Poor blood circulation in the skin, especially in the lower legs and feet causes this condition.
Some factors which are known to trigger episodes of dermatitis are:
- Environmental changes.
- Hormonal imbalance.
- Irritating substances.
What Are The Things One Should Do To Manage Dermatitis?
Different people are allergic to different substances. Identify what triggers dermatitis and try to avoid contact with them. Other ways to control the condition are:
- Use a mild and fragrance-free soap for bathing.
- Have a bath with warm water, not too hot. Hot water tends to dry the skin.
- Limit your bath time.
- Adding bath oil may help in moisturizing the skin while bathing.
- Adding oatmeal to the bath helps soothe the skin.
- Apply moisturizer to the skin while still in the bathroom. This makes absorption of the moisturiser faster and seals it in.
- Wear clothes made from natural fibres like cotton.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes.
- Use moisturizer regularly.
- Opt for mild fragrance free detergents to wash clothes
What Are The Things One Should Avoid To Manage Dermatitis?
- Avoid scrubbing the body with loofahs.
- Avoid extremely hot or extremely cold weather.
- Avoid very humid or very dry air.
- Avoid wearing clothes made of scratchy skin which can irritate the skin.
- Avoid stress as in some people stress can trigger dermatitis.
- Avoid scratching the skin as it can further flare up. Keep nails short and try wearing gloves at night to keep yourself from scratching in sleep.
What Are The Best Foods For Dermatitis?
Until you know for certain that you are allergic to certain food products, it is very difficult to point out which food is flaring your dermatitis. Scientists are doing research to find out best foods for dermatitis patients. Some results show that the following food may help to relieve dermatitis symptoms:
- Omega 3 fatty acids: This compound is known to have anti-inflammatory properties and is found in fatty fish like salmon and herring, walnuts and flaxseeds.
- Foods which contain Quercetin: Quercetin is a flavonoid which gives the rich colour to fruits and vegetables. It has antihistamine, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities. Foods containing quercetin are apples, broccoli, blueberries, cherries, spinach, kale, etc.
- Probiotics: Fermented foods like yoghurt, cheese, sourdough bread and kefir contain live cultures and are natural immunity boosters. They may reduce allergic reactions and bouts of eczema.
What Are The Worst Foods For Dermatitis?
Sometimes dermatitis is caused due to food allergies and common food substances which are known to cause allergies are:
- Gluten, nuts.
- Soy products, cow's milk.
- Fish, chocolate.
- Corn, acidic foods like tomatoes, oranges, and lime.
- Nightshade vegetables like all varieties of peppers.
What Are The Medicines For Dermatitis?
What Are The Tips To Manage Dermatitis?
If you are diagnosed with dermatitis, keep track of things that you come in contact with and things that you eat. If you repeatedly get a flare up after touching or eating a particular thing, you have to eliminate it from your lifestyle. Identifying such triggers and avoiding them will help in preventing flare-ups and managing the disease efficiently.