Patient Care


What is Dermatitis?

Dermatitis is a general term that describes an inflammation of the skin. There are different types of Dermatitis, both due to endogenous and exogenous causes. This disorder usually involves swollen, reddened, flaky and itchy skin.

Dermatitis is a common condition that is not life-threatening or contagious but it can make one feel uncomfortable and self-conscious. A combination of self-care steps and medications can help in the treatment of Dermatitis.

What are the signs & symptoms of Dermatitis?

There are several types of Dermatitis, each having distinct signs and symptoms.

They include:

  • Contact Dermatitis: An eruption that results from either single or repeated contact with irritants or allergens.
  • Neurodermatitis: A chronic itchy skin condition localized to certain areas of the skin, often due to repeated picking and scratching of the skin, sometimes involuntarily.
  • Seborrheic Dermatitis: A common scalp condition that results in dandruff, scalp oiliness and itch.
  • Stasis Dermatitis: A skin condition that's caused by a build-up of fluid under the skin of the legs, as a result of poor venous circulation.
  • Atopic Dermatitis: More commonly known as endogenous eczema or atopic eczema, a chronic recurrent itchy rash that has a strong association with asthma, allergic rhinitis and familial inheritance.
  • Perioral Dermatitis: An eruption around the mouth consisting of reddened bumps, often due to previous application of potent topical steroids on the face.
Common signs and symptoms include:
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Itching
  • Skin lesions
  • Excoriations

See your doctor if:

  • You're so uncomfortable with the condition that it affects your quality of life
  • Your skin becomes painful
  • You suspect your skin is infected
  • You've tried self-care steps without success
What are the treatment options for Dermatitis?

Treatment for Dermatitis varies, depending on the cause and severity.

  • Contact Dermatitis: Treatment consists primarily of identifying the cause of the rash and then avoiding it. Topical steroid creams with or without wet dressings may help relieve redness and itching.
  • Neurodermatitis: The treatment objectives are getting you to stop scratching and to avoid further aggravating your skin. Accomplishing this may mean covering the affected area to prevent you from scratching it. Topical steroid creams with or without wet dressings may help relieve redness and itching. Antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications are helpful for some people. Also, counselling can help you learn how your emotions and behaviours can fuel or prevent itching and scratching.
  • Seborrheic Dermatitis: Medicated shampoos are usually the first treatment choice. Commonly used shampoos contain tar, pyrithione zinc, salicylic acid or ketoconazole as the active ingredient. Topical steroid lotions and solutions can be used to reduce inflammation.
  • Stasis Dermatitis: Treatment consists of correcting the condition that causes fluid to accumulate in your legs or ankles for extended periods. This may mean wearing elastic support hose or even having varicose vein surgery. Topical steroid creams with or without wet dressings may help relieve redness and itching. If you develop a secondary skin infection, you may need treatment for it too.
  • Atopic Dermatitis: Treatment typically depends on the severity of the condition. Moisturisers are the mainstay first line treatment in very mild cases or infants. They also help prevent recurrences. Topical steroid creams with or without wet dressings may help relieve redness and itching. If itching is severe, your doctor may suggest you take antihistamines. For more severe cases, phototherapy, oral steroids and oral immunosuppressive medications may be required. Your doctor will assess your condition and advise accordingly.
  • Perioral Dermatitis: Treatment for this condition is usually oral tetracycline antibiotics. You may need to continue this treatment for several months to prevent a recurrence. Your doctor may also prescribe certain topical medications like calcineurin inhibitors such as Protopic or Elidel.
Find A Doctor

Click here to access our Find A Doctor directory for a list of doctors treating this condition across our NUHS institutions.

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