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December 13, 2018

Dealing with dermatitis

DERMATITIS is a general term that describes an inflammation of the skin. Although dermatitis can have many causes and occurs in many forms, this disorder usually involves an itchy rash on swollen, reddened skin.

Skin affected by dermatitis may blister, ooze, develop a crust or flake off. Examples of dermatitis include atopic dermatitis (eczema), dandruff, and rashes caused by contact with poison ivy or certain metals and leathers.

Dermatitis is a common condition that usually isn’t life-threatening or contagious, however it can be very uncomfortable.

SYMPTOMS
Each type of dermatitis may look a little different and may tend to occur on different parts of your body. The most common types of dermatitis include:
• Atopic dermatitis (eczema). Usually beginning in infancy, this red, itchy rash most commonly occurs where the skin flexes, such as inside the elbows, behind the knees and the front of the neck. When scratched, the rash can leak fluid and crust over.
• Contact dermatitis. This rash occurs on areas of the body that have come into contact with substances that either irritate the skin or cause an allergic reaction, such as poison ivy, leather or metals, The rash may burn, sting or itch. Blisters may develop.
• Seborrheic dermatitis. This condition causes a red rash with yellowish and somewhat “oily” scales, usually on the scalp and sometimes on the face, especially around the ears and nose. It’s a common cause of dandruff. In infants, this disorder is known as cradle cap.

CAUSES
A number of health conditions, allergies, genetic factors and irritants can cause different types of dermatitis:
• Atopic dermatitis (eczema). This condition often occurs with allergies and frequently occurs in families in which members have asthma, hay fever or eczema.
• Contact dermatitis. This condition results from direct contact with one of many irritants or allergens, such as poison ivy; jewellery containing nickel, and certain cleaning products, perfumes and cosmetics.
• Seborrheic dermatitis. This condition is common in people with oily skin or hair, and it may come and go depending on the season. It’s likely that hereditary factors play a role in this condition.

RISKS
A number of factors can increase your risk of developing certain types of dermatitis. Examples include:
• Age. Dermatitis can occur at any age, but atopic dermatitis (eczema) usually begins in infancy.
• Allergies and asthma. People who have a personal or family history of hay fever or asthma are more likely to develop atopic dermatitis.
• Occupation. Jobs that put you in contact with certain metals, solvents or cleaning supplies increase your risk of contact dermatitis.

COMPLICATIONS
Scratching the itchy rash associated with dermatitis can cause open sores, which may become infected. These skin infections can spread and may, very rarely, become life-threatening.

TREATMENT
Dermatitis treatment varies, depending on the cause. Using corticosteroid creams, applying wet compresses and avoiding irritants are the cornerstones of most dermatitis treatment plans.

REDUCING YOUR RISKS
• Use non-prescription anti-itch products. Over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion can temporarily relieve itching. Oral antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (for example, Benadryl), may be helpful if itching is severe.
• Apply cool, wet compresses. Covering the affected area with bandages and dressings can help protect your skin and prevent scratching.
• Take a comfortably cool bath. Sprinkle your bath water with baking soda, uncooked oatmeal or colloidal oatmeal, which is a finely ground oatmeal that’s made for the bathing.
• Avoid scratching. Cover the itchy area with a dressing if you can’t keep from scratching it. Trim nails and wear gloves at night.
• Wear cotton clothing. Smooth-textured cotton clothing can help you avoid irritating the affected area.
• Choose mild laundry detergent. Because your clothes, sheets and towels touch your skin, choose mild laundry products that are unscented. Avoid fabric softeners.
PREVENTION
Avoiding dry skin may be one factor in helping you prevent future bouts of dermatitis. These tips can help you minimise the drying effects of bathing on your skin:
• Bathe less frequently. Most people who are prone to dermatitis don’t need to bathe daily. Try going a day or two without a shower or bath. When you do bathe, limit yourself to 15 to 20 minutes, and use warm, rather than hot, water.
• Use only mild soaps. Choose mild soaps that clean without excessively removing natural oils. Deodorant and antibacterial soaps may be more drying to your skin. Use soap only on your face, underarms, genital area, hands and feet.
• Dry yourself carefully. Whisk water off your skin with the palms of your hands. Gently pat your skin dry with a towel after bathing.
• Moisturise your skin. While your skin is still damp, seal in moisture with an oil or cream. Pay special attention to your legs, arms, back and the sides of your body.

Contact Dr Maxwell on 3631807/7575411 or maxwelladeyemi@hotmail.com

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Dealing with dermatitis

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