Dermatitis, often known simply as rash, is inflammation of the skin. The disorder has many manifestations but usually involves swollen, reddened or itchy skin.
The most common types of dermatitis are seborrheic dermatitis and atopic dermatitis (eczema). Seborrheic dermatitis occurs most frequently in infants and adults aged 30 to 70 years. Men are more prone to seborrheic dermatitis than women, and 85% of those with AIDS have this condition. People living in urban areas with low humidity are at an increased risk for atopic dermatitis. Allergens such as rubber, metal, jewelry, cosmetics, fragrances or weeds may cause atopic dermatitis. Although the cause of atopic dermatitis is unknown, it is believed to be hereditary.
There are a host of other types of dermatitis. Contact dermatitis, which causes about 80% of cases, is the result of contact with an allergen or an irritating substance. Cleaning products such as soaps, detergents or bleach may cause contact dermatitis. Dermatitis herpetiformis is linked to a gastrointestinal condition called celiac disease. Nummular dermatitis occurs less frequently and has no known cause. Stasis dermatitis is inflammation of the lower legs in those with varicose veins. Perioral dermatitis occurs in women aged 20 to 60 years and is similar to rosacea.
There is a wide variety of symptoms, ranging from rashes to bumps to blisters. Some cases may ooze or scar, others may sting. Dermatitis may occur anywhere on the body.
Treatments for dermatitis vary, from corticosteroids to nonsteroidal medications to antihistamines. Most treatments relieve symptoms.
Although dermatitis can cause great discomfort, it usually is not life-threatening or contagious. It may be treated with self-care or medications, usually a combination of both.
Additional information about dermatitis may be found at these websites: