Dermatitis is a term used to describe several types
of inflammation of the upper layer of the skin. Its
symptoms include itching, flaking, crusting, scaling,
and thickening of the skin.
Dermatitis is most frequently caused by food allergies,
contact allergies (makeup, nickel and other metals in
jewelry, perfumes, creams), or toxic plant allergies
such as poison ivy or poison oak.
What To Consider
If the allergy-causing factors of dermatitis are not
removed and/or the affected area of the skin is excessively
scratched, the dermatitis may spread and become very
severe. Gastrointestinal problems such as parasites
should also be screened for.
There are many types of dermatitis.
- Contact dermatitis
is an inflammation produced by substances that touch
the skin, such direct irritants and allergy-causing
substances, as well as exposure to light.
- Atopic dermatitis is a severe form of dermatitis,
characterized by chronic itching and inflammation of
the skin. It most commonly occurs in individuals with
a family history of allergic disorders such as asthma,
hay fever, and milk allergies.
- Seborrheic dermatitis refers to an inflammation
of the scalp or face, and, in rare cases, on the sternum
Nummular dermatitis produces coin-shaped red
bumps that cause intense itching. It most often occurs
in middle-age people who are under stress and is most
likely to occur in the winter.
Chronic dermatitis of the hands and feet, or
a generalized dermatitis that affects wide areas of
the skin with extreme scaling, are other forms of dermatitis.
Dermatitis is also sometimes referred to as eczema.
order to properly treat dermatitis, it is important
to identify and eliminate food allergies and other allergy-causing
substances. Follow a gluten-free diet with no wheat,
oats, rye, or barley. Also avoid dairy foods, especially
cow's milk, as many studies have shown this to be another
major culprit food. In addition, eat lots of sauerkraut
and naturally fermented foods.
People with dermatitis should assess their need for
digestive enzymes, and supplement accordingly. Other
useful nutrients are vitamin B6 and vitamin B complex,
magnesium, zinc, acidophilus, and evening primrose oil
or omega-6 fatty acids from other sources.
Benzoin, chamomile, lavender, bergamot, and geranium are all useful essential
oils that can be applied topically to the areas of the
skin affected by dermatitis.
Rescue Remedy Cream can also be applied topically.
the tinctures of nettle, red clover, and cleavers in
equal parts and drink 1/2 teaspoon of this mixture three
times a day. Drink an infusion of fresh nettle or cleavers
twice a day. To alleviate itching, bathe the affected
area with lukewarm or cold chickweed infusion. For cracked,
dry, or painful skin, use a salve made from calendula
flowers and St. John's wort leaves.
Pulsatilla, Arsen alb., Lycopodium, Graphites, Petroleum,
Sulfur, Thuja, and Sepia are useful homeopathic
Cold compress (cold and water applied to the affected areas as needed
to control pain or itching).
The following juice combinations can be helpful for alleviating dermatitis
symptoms: carrot, beet, cucumber, and celery; carrot,
celery, and apple; and cantaloupe juice.
Aloe vera gel, pyridoxine ointment, or a mixture of vitamin E, vitamin
A, unflavored yogurt, a little honey, and zinc oxide,
make excellent topical salves for easing and reversing
symptoms. Evening primrose oil applied directly to cracks
and sore areas of the skin (folds such as elbows and
behind the knee, for example) can also be very helpful
in promoting healing.
If your symptoms persist despite the above measures,
seek the help of a qualified health professional.
Back to Health Conditions A to Z