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Dermatitis Demystified: Everything You Need to Know

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Dermatitis Demystified: Everything You Need to Know

Dermatology | by Dr. Poonam Jalan | Published on 06/12/2023


Are you experiencing red rashes, fluid-filled ulcers, or dry skin? These symptoms are often an indication of a skin condition called dermatitis. It is a usual term for skin conditions causing skin inflammation. Signs like dry or patchy skin might scare with bumps on the skin. However, it is not a very serious condition and is easily manageable. There are different types which we will discuss further. Some of them are common and some are less common. Examples include atopic dermatitis, which affects around two to three percent of adults, while contact dermatitis occurs in around 15-20% of adults.

If you are apprehensive that it is infectious, it is not contagious. However, you must Dermatitis is a common skin condition causing redness, itching, and discomfort due to skin inflammation. It is an umbrella term covering a comprehensive range of skin inflammation types, each with its own specific causes, symptoms, and triggers. With one of the best dermatologists in Kolkata at CMRI Hospital, for the proper diagnosis and the right treatment solutions. 

In this blog, you will find a comprehensive discussion on dermatitis so stay tuned till the end. Please note that this information is only for knowledgeable purposes and we do not promote the idea of delaying the doctor’s consultation.

What is Dermatitis?

Dermatitis is a common skin condition causing redness, itching, and discomfort due to skin inflammation. It is an umbrella term covering a comprehensive range of skin inflammation types, each with its specific causes, symptoms, and triggers. Every age group is susceptible to dermatitis and experiences acute, chronic, or recurrent episodes. Taking good care of oneself, recognizing and avoiding triggers, and occasionally using topical or oral medications to relieve symptoms and reduce inflammation are all part of managing dermatitis. Dermatologists offer personalized treatment plans based on dermatitis type and its severity.

What are the types of Dermatitis?

Several types of dermatitis are there which include:

  • Atopic dermatitis: Characterized by red, itchy rashes and dry skin, it usually starts in childhood.
  • Contact dermatitis: Chemicals, soaps, and detergents are among the substances that can cause contact dermatitis.
  • Seborrheic dermatitis: Red, scaly patches on the skin are the attribute of this condition.
  • Nummular Dermatitis: Coin-shaped areas of inflamed skin are the signs of nummular dermatitis, also known as discoid eczema
  • Dyshidrotic dermatitis- Small, itchy blisters are the determining factors of dyshidrotic eczema, which can be caused by stress, allergies, or exposure to specific metals.
  • Neurodermatitis: Thicker, scaly skin patches are a common sign of neurodermatitis, also referred to as lichen simplex chronicus. 
  • Stasis Dermatitis: It is often seen in individuals with venous insufficiency, leading to symptoms such as redness, swelling, and scaling.
  • Allergic Dermatitis: It includes conditions like atopic dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis, and others where the immune system plays a role in the skin's inflammatory response.
  • Perioral Dermatitis: Perioral dermatitis is determined by red, bumpy rashes around the mouth, eyes, and sometimes the nose. 
  • Autoimmune Dermatitis: Certain autoimmune disorders, such as lupus and dermatomyositis, can cause skin inflammation and dermatitis.

What are the Dermatitis symptoms?

Dermatitis symptoms can vary in severity and presentation, but common signs of dermatitis include:

  • Redness and Inflammation
  • Itching (Pruritus)
  • Dry or Scaly Skin
  • Blisters or Vesicles
  • Swelling
  • Pain or Discomfort
  • Changes in Skin Color
  • Crusting and Oozin
  • Thickened Skin (Lichenification)

What are the causes of Dermatitis?

Understanding the many causes of dermatitis is essential for both effective prevention and treatment. The following are some major factors that lead to dermatitis development:

  • Allergens: Dermatitis can be brought on by allergic reactions to specific substances. Some metals (like nickel), latex, some plants (like poison ivy), and some foods are common allergens.
  • Irritants: Dermatitis can also result from exposure to irritants. Strong chemicals found in detergents, soaps, and cleaning supplies can deplete the skin's natural oils, irritating. 
  • Genetic Factors: A genetic propensity for dermatitis may exist in some people. The risk of developing dermatitis is increased in families with a history of skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis or eczema. 
  • Microorganisms: Dermatitis can result from bacterial, viral, or fungal infections. For instance, viral or bacterial infections such as herpes simplex, fungus infections, or impetigo.
  • Autoimmune disorders: These disorders occur when the immune system unintentionally targets healthy cells. Skin inflammation and symptoms resembling dermatitis can be cultivated by conditions like lupus and psoriasis.
  • Climate and Environment: The health of the skin can be impacted by environmental factors such as humidity, UV radiation exposure, and extreme weather. 
  • Stress: Stress hormones have the potential to worsen pre-existing skin disorders, such as dermatitis, and to cause inflammation. 
  • Hormonal Changes: Variations in hormone levels, particularly amid puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, can affect how sensitive the skin is and increase the risk of developing dermatitis.

How is Dermatitis diagnosed?

A dermatologist initiates dermatitis diagnoses and he/she might look at your skin first and try to understand your symptoms. Here are some of the steps followed to diagnose dermatitis:

  • Medical History: Before beginning any diagnostic procedure, dermatologists ask their patients about their entire medical history. The beginning of symptoms, possible triggers, a family history of skin conditions, and prior treatments are all possible topics of discussion.
  • Physical Examination: The rash or lesions are thoroughly examined to determine their appearance, texture, and distribution on the affected skin. To determine the type of dermatitis, the dermatologist may evaluate the degree of redness, swelling, and the existence of particular patterns.
  • Patch testing: To identify particular allergens or irritants in cases of suspected contact dermatitis, patch testing is used. Common allergens are applied in small amounts to the skin, usually, the back, and the reaction is monitored after a predetermined amount of time.
  • Skin Biopsy: In difficult or unusual cases, a skin biopsy may be advised. To do this, a tiny sample of the afflicted skin must be taken for microscopic analysis. A biopsy offers comprehensive insights into the cellular alterations linked to dermatitis and aids in ruling out other skin conditions.
  • Blood Tests: Although blood tests are not usually used to directly diagnose dermatitis, they can help determine underlying medical issues or allergies that may be causing inflammation of the skin. Increased concentrations of specific antibodies or white blood cells can offer important hints.
  • Phototesting: Phototesting may be used in some situations, especially with specific kinds of photodermatitis. This entails administering precise dosages of UV light to the skin to gauge the response and support the diagnosis.

What are the options for Dermatitis treatment?

Dermatitis treatment depends on certain factors such as types, causes, and symptoms. Healthcare professionals offer the following treatment options for this skin condition: 

  • Hydration Therapy: Use lotions or creams without fragrance to keep your skin hydrated. For your skin, hydration is like a superhero cape.
  • Steer clear of triggers: Take on the role of an investigator in your own life by determining which objects or situations cause your dermatitis and avoiding them. This could apply to specific skincare items, materials, or surroundings.
  • Moderate Skincare Regimen: Accept the gentle touch; use mild, fragrance-free soaps instead of harsh scrubs. Every day should be a spa day for your skin.
  • Clothes Selection: Opt for airy, relaxed materials like cotton to allow your skin to breathe. Bid farewell to constricting apparel that exacerbates irritation.
  • Temperature Control: To keep your skin as hydrated as possible, protect it from extremely high or low temperatures, and think about using humidifiers in dry areas.
  • Handling Stress: Stress functions as the dermatitis's backstage director. Start by breathing deeply and practicing yoga, meditation, or other relaxation techniques regularly.
  • Medical Intervention: Depending on the type and severity of dermatitis, a dermatologist may recommend oral medications, topical steroids, or other specialized treatments in severe cases.


In conclusion, anyone suffering from dermatitis must have a thorough understanding of this common skin condition. Atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, and other types of dermatitis can all have a major negative influence on a person's quality of life. Dermatitis causes discomfort, inflammation, and itching that can be physically and psychologically taxing. After looking at the types, causes, and symptoms of dermatitis, it is evident that a customized management strategy is necessary. The first steps in controlling and reducing the symptoms are recognizing and avoiding triggers, implementing a gentle skincare regimen, and consulting dermatologists for expert advice.

Faq -


Can seborrheic dermatitis cause hair loss?

Seborrheic dermatitis in a very rare case leads to hair loss, however, if hair loss occurs there might be another reason.

Can seborrheic dermatitis be cured?

Seborrheic dermatitis is among the rash types causing red, greasy, and scaly skin that affects the oil glands, upper chest, scalp, and face. It doesn’t go away and cannot be cured completely. However, this type can only be managed.

Is dermatitis contagious?

Dermatitis is not infectious and doesn’t spread from one person to another.