The skin problem of dermatitis has become a major public health issue in
the last two decades. Its proliferation has been attributed to the lifestyle
and environmental changes that have occurred with industrialization. Often
we are simply unaware of certain contributing factors around us, for instance
the lack of exposure to microorganisms at an early age in the highly insulated
homes we live in, increasing pollution, workplace exposure to allergens etc.
Since most forms of dermatitis are associated with contact with offending
agents, it is very important to know more about them. Moreover, dermatitis
occurs in various forms that also need to be distinguished for proper
detection and treatment. Though the two major forms of dermatitis are
allergic contact dermatitis and irritant contact dermatitis, there are
other types too. This section of the website catalogues the other forms
The first of the kind is dermatitis herpetiformis, which is a very itchy
and blistering skin disease. It is an autoimmune (response of an antibody
to naturally present matter in the human body) and polymorphic (occurring
in different forms) disease.
It is characterised by granular IgA precipitates present at the tips
of the papillary dermis in the skin. Apart from the itchiness, its other
symptoms include reddening of the skin, plaques, papules, seropapules,
vesicles, digital purpura and excoriations. Moreover, the blisters are
usually small. It mainly occurs on the elbows, knees and buttocks. It
has an unpredictable progression and decreases and reoccurs unexpectedly.
It reduces with rigorous and long-term avoidance of gluten in the diet.
It has been associated with a dormant type of celiac disease, autoimmune
thyroid disease, and iodine sensitivity. The management of the condition
shows reduction with ultrviolet action and dapsone therapy.
The next kind of dermatitis is psychological dermatitis. Information
about psychological dermatitis is vital since it is associated with the
interdependence of our mental and physical wellbeing. The relationship
of our mind and our skin condition occurs in two forms. Firstly, when
a skin problem has psychological implications and secondly when an existing
mental distress causes a skin condition. The various skin problems associated
with our state of mind, can be grouped according to the role our psychology
plays in their development. The article on psychological dermatitis deals
with its various types, clinical features and treatment methods. This
is very important, since psychological dermatitis must be diagnosed correctly
in association with its corresponding mental problem. Moreover, it also
often involves psychiatric and psychological treatment as well.
Seborrheic dermatitis is another form that occurs as red, peeling, oily
skin eruptions. It mainly occurs on the scalp, nasolabial creases, eyebrows,
ears, chest and flexural body areas. Seborrheic dermatitis develops in
1% to 3% of adults and it is more common among men during the time of
puberty. It generally occurs more in people over middle age as well. It
is has a high incidence among AIDS patients. Malassezia yeasts have a
role to play in its development and there is a theory (though debated)
that dandruff is a mild non-inflammatory form this disease. Seborrheic
dermatitis can occur in combination with other skin conditions such as
rosacea, blepharitis or ocular irritation, and acne vulgaris. Treatment
methods include keratolytic agents, corticosteroids, and the latest trend
of antifungal agents. The details of all this can be found in the relevant
Cercarial dermatitis (swimmer's itch)
Cercarial dermatitis (swimmer's itch) is an itchy inflammatory sensitivity
to non-human Schistosoma parasites that enter the skin. Generally, skin
contact with infected water in ponds, lakes or other water bodies leads
to the disease. It is also known by the names of clam digger's itch and
sedge pool itch. It is very important to know how to avoid its incidence
especially for people who have regular exposure to water bodies. The article
on cercarial dermatitis outlines its prevalence, diagnosis, clinical features,
pathology, causes and treatment.
Photodermatitis (actinic dermatitis)
Another common form of dermatitis that has been included in this website
is chronic actinic dermatitis, also known as photodermatitis. It occurs
due to photosensitivity to ultraviolet (UV) and often evident radiation
as well. It is more prevalent in patients with a history of allergic contact
dermatitis or endogenous (generally atopic or seborrheic) dermatitis.
It generally occurs in sun-bathed body location, but other body parts
cannot be totally ruled out either. It is very common in Europe, North
America and Singapore.
Dermatitis in the elderly
Dermatitis in the elderly has been given special emphasis in this section,
since managing dermatitis in the aged is a matter of concern for the medical
community. This is mainly because the aged fail to follow a proper skin
care regime, which is often the cause of both physically and mentally
disturbing dermatitis. The elderly should be made aware that their ageing
skin is more vulnerable to diseases and how they should take care of it.
The first step to creating awareness is to know about the skin conditions
and factors that lead to dermatitis in the elderly. Medical staff such
as nurses should also be trained on how to deal with aged dermatitis patients.