The simple definition of dermatitis is inflammation of the skin. In most cases, the early symptoms of dermatitis are characterized by dry, red, itchy skin. Since many things can irritate the skin, it is helpful to narrow the diagnosis to a specific category of dermatitis, even though treatment can be similar for most types of skin irritation and inflammation.

The categories of dermatitis are:

Contact Dermatitis typically causes the skin to develop a pink or red rash which may or may not itch. Pinpointing the exact cause of contact dermatitis can be difficult. Among plants, the leading culprits are poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac, although contact with certain flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables irritate some people. Common chemical irritants include detergents, soaps, some synthetic fibers, nail polish remover, antiperspirants and formaldehyde (found in permanent-press fabrics, polishes, artificial-fingernail adhesive, particle board and foam insulation). Wearing rubber gloves, unwashed new clothes or plated jewelry can also cause contact dermatitis if the person is allergic to these substances. The inflammation is frequently caused by cosmetics, perfumes, hair dyes, topical medicine and skin-care products.

Nummular Dermatitis consists of distinctive coin-shaped red patches that are most commonly seen on the legs, hands, arms and torso. It is more common in men than women and the peak age of onset is between 55 and 65. Living in a dry environment or taking very hot showers can cause this condition.

Atopic Dermatitis, also called eczema, causes the skin to itch, scale, swell and sometimes blister. This type of eczema usually runs in families and is often associated with allergies, asthma and stress.

Seborrheic Dermatitis consists of greasy, yellowish, or reddish scaling on the scalp and other hairy areas, as well as on the face or genitals, and in skin creases along the nose, under the breasts and elsewhere. This condition is called cradle cap in infants and is likely related to hormonal changes affecting the glands. It may be aggravated by stress.

Stasis Dermatitis is caused by poor circulation and can happen in people with varicose veins, congestive heart failure or other conditions. Veins in the lower legs fail to return blood efficiently, causing pooling of blood and fluid buildup and edema. This leads to irritation, especially around the ankles.

If you have skin inflammation, contact The Center for Advanced Dermatology at 602-867-7546 or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Holy to check for dermatitis or other skin conditions.