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Dermatitis is an itchy inflammation of the skin. It is not contagious or dangerous, but it can be uncomfortable. There are many types of dermatitis, including allergic dermatitis, eczema, and seborrheic dermatitis (which causes dandruff). Eczema is a chronic condition, and symptoms may come and go.
Signs and Symptoms
What Causes It?
What to Expect at Your Provider's Office
Your doctor will try to determine the cause of your dermatitis and make sure you have dermatitis and not a similar disease, such as psoriasis, skin cancer, or some psychological conditions. Your doctor may be able to make a diagnosis by examining you, or by doing a patch test to see what substances you might be allergic to.
Treatment varies depending on the type of dermatitis you have. For eczema, applying wet, cool compresses may help relieve itching. Taking a cool bath with baking soda or colloidal oatmeal added to the water may also help.
Complementary and Alternative Therapies
There are several complementary and alternative therapies and strategies that can help treat dermatitis. For example, many people with eczema have food allergies, so eating a healthy diet may help reduce inflammation and allergic reactions. Dermatitis associated with stress and anxiety may be helped by mind-body techniques, such as meditation, tai chi, yoga, and stress management.
Check with your doctor before giving a supplement to a child.
The use of herbs is a time honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, can trigger side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, you should take herbs with care, under the supervision of a health care provider. Always tell your doctor about any herbs you may be taking. When applying herbs to the skin it is important to make sure that you have no open wounds as serious infection can result.
Although few studies have examined the effectiveness of specific homeopathic therapies, professional homeopaths may consider the following remedies for the treatment of dermatitis based on their knowledge and experience. Before prescribing a remedy, homeopaths take into account a person's constitutional type -- your physical, emotional, and psychological makeup. An experienced homeopath assesses all of these factors when determining the most appropriate treatment for each individual.
Carefully avoid any substance that causes a skin reaction. Prevent infection and scarring by not scratching.
If your skin becomes infected, see your doctor right away, especially if you notice red streaks on your skin. That could be a sign of cellulitis, which can be life threatening for some people.
Check with your health care provider before using any medication if you are pregnant or nursing.
Some evidence suggests that breastfed children are less likely to develop eczema.
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Review Date: 3/2/2012
Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
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