Dermatitis is an umbrella term used to refer to a group of skin conditions that cause inflammation and irritation on parts of the skin. Dermatitis comes in various forms, all with varying causes. The primary symptoms, however, typically include red, inflamed, and itchy patches of skin that look like rashes. Dermatitis rashes can sometimes become sore, pus-filled, and crust over.
Dermatitis is a prevalent, non-infectious skin condition, but it can become a source of great discomfort and embarrassment. A blend of self-care measures and medicinal remedies can be effective in relieving symptoms of dermatitis.
Every form of dermatitis presents itself differently and typically affects different areas of the skin. The most common types of dermatitis are atopic dermatitis–also known as eczema–, seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff), and contact dermatitis.
Atopic dermatitis usually develops in young children under the age of 5, presenting itself with red, inflamed, and itchy outbreaks in the neck and also folds of the elbows and knees. Scratching usually makes the rashes ooze pus and crusty. Atopic dermatitis is characterized by periods of outbreaks and remissions.
A host of factors are associated with the development of atopic dermatitis such as a gene mutation, dryness of the skin, a faulty immune system response, skin bacteria or fungi, as well as environmental triggers.
Seborrheic dermatitis is characterized by redness and greasy, flaky patches on the skin, which is commonly referred to as dandruff. Seborrheic dermatitis most commonly appears on the oil-secreting parts of the body, including the face, back, and chest. This form of dermatitis is chronic, defined by periods of outbreaks and reliefs. When seborrheic dermatitis affects young children, the condition is called cradle cap.
The root cause of seborrheic dermatitis has been identified as a fungus that naturally grows in the oil-producing layer of the skin. People with seborrheic dermatitis also experience seasonal symptoms.
Contact dermatitis causes a rash in the parts of the skin that get exposed to a reaction-inducing irritant or allergen, which can be harsh soaps, certain natural oils, and irritant plants such as poison ivy. The rashes caused by contact dermatitis can be inflamed and itchy, causing a burning sensation.
Contact dermatitis is mainly caused by direct physical exposure to certain allergens and irritants like cleaning products containing harsh chemicals and preservatives, fragrances, beauty products, poison ivy, nickel, and other self-care products.
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