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What types of dermatitis are there?

There are several different types of dermatitis and these have different causes. They are broadly divided into those which are constitutional or due to an 'in-built' tendency and those which are exogenous or due to factors in the outside world. For example atopic dermatitis or eczema is a constitutional condition which tends to run in families along with hay fever and asthma. People are born with the tendency to get this type of eczema although it may not become a problem until childhood

or later life.

The most common ones are related to allergies. Atopic eczema, the most common, is caused by general systemic allergic reactions, as opposed to contact with an irritant. It is very common in people with related allergic conditions, including asthma or chronic hay fever. Allergic contact dermatitis, as the name implies, is the result of direct contact with an irritant. One of the most common causes of this form are buttons and rivets in jeans, which contain nickel. Irritant contact dermatitis is similar but is caused by a reaction to some chemical substance, often unrinsed detergents left on clothing or various household chemicals being handled. Stress and anxiety often make otherwise minor outbreaks spread.

Several other forms appear unrelated to the main allergic causes. Infantile seborrhoeic eczema, also known as cradle cap, forms on the head and quickly spreads. It looks like normal dermatitis, but apparently doesn't itch and eventually goes away on its own. Adult seborrhoeic eczema typically affects those between 20 and 40 years old. It affects the scalp, face, and upper body. Varicose eczema occurs later in life, the result of poor circulation in the legs. Finally discoid eczema suddenly appears as small disk shaped spots of severe dermatitis, but disappear on their own.

Atopic dermatitis is particularly prevalent in children; inherited factors seem important, as there is nearly always a family history of dermatitis or asthma. Irritant contact dermatitis is provoked by handling water, detergents, solvents or harsh chemicals, and by friction. Irritants cause more trouble in those who have a tendency to atopic dermatitis. Allergic contact dermatitis is due to skin contact with substances that most people don't react to: most commonly nickel, perfume, rubber, hair dye or preservatives. A dermatologist my identify the responsible agent by patch testing. Dry skin: especially on the lower legs, may cause asteatotic dermatitis. Nummular dermatitis (also called 'discoid eczema') may be set off initially by an injury to the skin: scattered coin-shaped irritable patches persist for a few months. Seborrhoeic dermatitis appears to relate to Malassezia furfur yeasts that live on the scalp, face and sometimes elsewhere. Infective dermatitis seems to be provoked by impetigo (bacterial infection) or fungal infection. Gravitational dermatitis arises on the lower legs of the elderly, due to swelling and poorly functioning leg veins.

More information on dermatitis

What is dermatitis? - Dermatitis, also known as eczema, is a skin irritation characterized by red, flaky skin, sometimes with cracks or tiny blisters.
Types of dermatitis - There are several different types of dermatitis and these have different causes. The most common ones are related to allergies.
Contact dermatitis - Contact dermatitis is a dermatitis which is caused by something in the outside world which comes into contact with the skin.
Atopic dermatitis - Atopic dermatitis is a chronic, itchy skin condition that is very common in children but may occur at any age. It is also known as eczema and atopic eczema.
Seborrheic dermatitis - Seborrheic dermatitis is a common inflammatory condition of the skin. Seborrheic dermatitis is a chronic, recurring scaly rash involving the face, ears, eyebrows, scalp, and the chest.
Nummular dermatitis - Nummular dermatitis (nummular eczematous dermatitis or nummular eczema) affects the hands, arms, legs, and buttocks of men and women older than 55 years of age.
Causes of dermatitis - Each type of dermatitis has different causes. Atopic dermatitis is caused by allergies, asthma. Seborrheic dermatitis is caused by overproduction of the oil glands.
Treatments of dermatitis - Dermatitis is often treated with prescribed cortisone creams and lotions. Treating contact dermatitis begins with eliminating or avoiding the source of irritation.
Prevention of dermatitis - The most effective method of dealing with any type of dermatitis risk is through prevention. Contact dermatitis can be prevented by avoiding the source of irritation. 
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All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005, health-cares.net, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005