What is it?
Inflammation of the skin is commonly termed ‘eczema’ or ‘dermatitis’. Contact dermatitis occurs when your skin comes into contact with something that causes it to become red and inflamed (known as an inflammatory reaction).
What are the symptoms?
Contact dermatitis usually occurs on areas of your body that have been directly exposed to the reaction-causing substance — for example, along a calf that brushed against poison ivy or under a watch band. The rash usually develops within minutes to hours of exposure and can last two to four weeks. Signs and symptoms of contact dermatitis include: * A red rash * Itching, which may be severe * Dry, cracked, scaly skin * Bumps and blisters, sometimes with oozing and crusting * Swelling, burning or tenderness
- Cool Compresses can help to soothe inflamed and itchy skin. You can soak a clean cloth in cool water and place over the affected areas for about ten minutes.
- Milk may also be used to treat dermatitis. The protein found in milk and dairy foods help to reduce itching.
- Apply a thin layer of Calamine lotion on the affected areas twice daily.
- To relieve itching and irritation, use hydrocortisone cream. This is available over-the-counter and helps to alleviate inflammation. However it is not effective in treating bacterial infection.
- Oral antihistamines which are also available over-the-counter help to reduce itching. But they may have side effects such as drowsiness and dryness of the mouth.
- Add a cup of ground oatmeal to your bathwater and soak in it for some time. This is extremely soothing for dermatitis affected skin. You can even use a cup of baking soda.
- Apple cider vinegar is known to help in treating dermatitis. Apply some vinegar directly to the affected areas and allow it to soak in for some time. You can add a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to one cup of water and use as a skin cleanser.
- Herbs such as comfrey root and slippery elm bark are helpful in treating dermatitis.
- Apply petroleum jelly or gentle body lotion to treat dry and scaly skin.
- If you have seborrheic dermatitis, avoid using harsh shampoos. Use baby shampoos instead as they are gentle and do not worsen the condition.
- Keep your legs elevated if you have stasis dermatitis. You can also wear support stockings.
- Avoid using hot water.
- Avoid bathing too frequently as it can dry out the skin.
- Avoid scratching the area as it can tear the skin and trigger a secondary infection.
Things to watch out for
GP should be contacted if the symptoms of contact dermatitis are persistent, recurrent or severe. Your GP may refer you to a dermatologist for further tests.