What is dermatitis? What causes dermatitis?


Dermatitis, also known as eczema, appears as a rapidly spreading red rash that can be itchy, blistered and even swollen. There are two basic types of dermatitis: atopic and contact.

You’ll often see atopic dermatitis in younger kids because it’s related to asthma and hay fever-type allergies. You read that right. Your skin is having an allergy attack.

Contact dermatitis, as the name implies, involves contact with stuff your skin hates. This can include irritants (detergents or harsh chemicals) and allergens (things that you’re already allergic to like preservatives, types of fragrances, etc.).

If you have chronic dermatitis, the symptoms will generally appear in the same areas over and over again. These include your eyelids, neck, and hands. The skin in these areas will generally be darker than the rest of your skin and be thickened from persistent scratching. No one’s sure of the exact cause of chronic dermatitis, but most dermatologists agree it’s probably hereditary (yup, blame mom and dad) and possibly affected by your environment (like if you work as a dishwasher or a lifeguard).

Since dermatitis is very similar to an allergy, it can come and go throughout your life. Your dermatologist can help you find the best treatments.