Ease dermatitis   

Ease dermatitis

Dermatitis, or inflammation of the skin, is a common problem that usually results in red, swollen or blistered, intensely itchy areas of skin.

Some people with an allergic tendency, often inherited, will suffer from the chronic form of dermatitis known as eczema. This is sometimes referred to as endogenous (meaning from within) dermatitis.

But many others will experience a form of dermatitis called exogenous (contact) dermatitis. Exogenous means due to external factors. Contact dermatitis is the result of direct contact with a variety of substances.

Contact dermatitis.

There are two types of contact dermatitis:

irritant and allergic.

Irritant contact dermatitis is produced by the direct chemical effect of certain substances on the skin. The severity of the dermatitis will depend on how long the substance is in contact with the skin and the concentration of the offending material.

Common causes of irritant contact dermatitis include detergents and solvents, acids, alkalis, oils and skin cleansers.

Certain occupations are more prone to this form of dermatitis.

These include:

  • Homemakers

  • Caterers

  • Cleaners

  • Nurses

  • Builders

  • Hairdressers

  • Motor mechanics

The allergic form of contact dermatitis is less common, affecting a small number of people who, for some reason, become sensitive to certain common everyday substances.

They may have been in contact with these materials for years before the sensitivity develops.

The most common cause of allergic contact dermatitis, usually affecting women, is nickel. This is found in many metal objects worn next or close to the skin. Costume jewelry, metal studs on jeans and sleepers in pierced ears are usually to blame. Other allergens are chromates-especially in cement-rubber and some creams and ointments used for medical purposes. 

Eczema (atopic dermatitis)

This condition develops in childhood and may last into adulthood, although an adult can develop eczema without having a history-of it.

Atopic dermatitis is a type of eczema. With eczema, the skin is extremely itchy and usually dry. This condition has no known cause.

People who have atopic dermatitis also have a greater chance of developing allergies such as hay fever or asthma.

In babies, eczema takes the form of a rash around the mouth and cheeks. Then older children have eczema, rashes may appear behind the knees, in the creases of the elbows, and on the neck.

Itch-scratch-Itch cycle dermatitis

This develops when an itchy area is scratched or rubbed ,repeatedly. The skin becomes harder and annoyingly itchy. Scratching makes this worse. It may be hard to break the itch-scratch-itch cycle.

Seborrheic dermatitis

This is red, flaky, slightly itchy skin on an adult's scalp and face. The area from the side of the nose to the corner of the mouth may be affected, as well as the scalp and eyebrows.

The person often has dandruff, too. 


When contact dermatitis is suspected, the obvious first step is to try and find the cause. With an irritant cause this is usually easy, especially as the skin problem is often confined to those areas actually in direct contact with the irritant.

With an allergic cause the rash may be more widespread, making identification of the cause harder. If the rash is less obvious at weekends or during holidays, it is probably due to a work related substance.

A streaky rash is often due to an allergy to a plant, which the affected person has brushed past. Primula and poison ivy are common causes.

Sometimes patch testing, in which a number of suspected materials are applied to separate areas of skin for up to 48 hours, will solve the mystery.

Treatment of contact dermatitis usually, requires the use of corticosteroid creams or ointments. Whenever possible, contact with the cause must stop. This might mean abandoning a favorite piece of jewelry, or taking meticulous care always to wear protective gloves when doing housework. 


There are a number of different products available that can help in the prevention and treatment of dermatitis. Ask your pharmacist for advice about the products that are best for you.

Soap substitutes

A gentle, pH –balanced soap substitute or soap-free wash should be used all over the body if there is a general tendency to dry skin.

Normal soap is alkaline and can damage skin, and products with perfumes or lanolin may actually aggravate' the condition.

A good lather is not necessary for cleaning. 

Moisturizers or emollients

Moisturizers should be applied frequently, although some moisturizers with multiple ingredients may aggravate an allergy or dry skin. Try choosing moisturizers that are free from lanolin and additives such as perfume, colorants and parabens.

Ointments may be more effective for dry skin than creams. 

Barrier creams

Barrier creams are good for people who frequently have their hands in water or have contact dermatitis.

Antipruritic (anti-itch) preparations

Oatmeal and tar-based pine oil products are useful in the bath to help relieve itchy skin.

Bath oils

Bath oils can also be helpful, although constant use may stop natural oil production. You should not use more than the recommended amount, and you should be careful as they make the bath slippery. 

Anti-inflammatory products

Anti-inflammatory creams and ointments can help reduce inflammation and help to soothe the skin. 


Steroids such as hydrocortisone should be used sparingly and only while there is inflammation, and should not be applied more than twice daily, They should not be applied to broken skin or to the face. 


Happy reading,

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