Signs and Symptoms
Depending on the type of dermatitis, one or more symptoms may occur:
1.Dry, reddish, itchy, thickened patches of skin on any part of the body.
2. A pink or red rash.
3. Circular patches of blistery, scaly, or crusted skin, usually on the legs, buttocks, hand, or arms.
4. Greasy, yellowish scales on the scales, eyebrows, ears, or nose.
5. Scaly, reddened skin, sometimes with craterlike sores, on lower legs.
What to do now
1. If you have signs of contact dermatitis, try to find the cause and, if possible, get rid of the irritation. If you discover, for example, that nickel-plated jewelry or foundation makeup is the problem, you can simply stop wearing them.
2. If you suspect that you’re allergic to cosmetics or chemicals, do an at-home patch test. Apply a small amount of the potential irritant to your arm, and cover the spot with an adhesive bandage (if you’re allergic to adhesive, use gauze and paper tape). If you develop a red, itchy rash within 48 hours, then you’ll know the substances is an irritant.
3. For dermatitis on the scalp, try a tar shampoo. Stay out of the sun for a few hours after using it, since it increases the risk of sunburn on the scalp. (Never use this shampoo on children- it’s too harsh. Use a baby shampoo instead, and wash your child’s hair every day.)
4. If you have red, oozing sores, apply wash cloths that have been soaked in warm, salty water and wrung out. Then use an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream.
5. Mix oatmeal or cornstarch into a warm (not hot) bath to soothe mild skin inflammations and relieve itching. Don’t stay in the bath longer than 30 minutes. Use mild, fragrance-free soaps or cleansers.
6. Rub petroleum jelly or fragrance-free moisturizing lotion on dry, scaly skin; use calamine lotion on an oozing rash.
7. If you have stasis dermatitis on your legs elevated above hip level.
When to call a doctor
1. If your skin doesn’t get better after two or three weeks of using over-the-counter creams or medicated shampoos.
2. If you have sores that ooze pus or your skin shows other signs of infection.
How to prevent it
1. If you know you’ve been exposed to a chemical irritant, wash your skin with a mild cleanser and water as soon as possible. For poison ivy and other plant irritants wash the exposed areas plant irritants, wash the exposed areas with cold water and strong soap to remove the oil as soon as possible. Then wash the clothes you were using.
2. Wear loose-fitting, natural-fiber clothing. Untreated cotton is ideal for sensitive skin.
3. Avoid nickel-plated jewelry, especially earrings. Surgical stainless steel is the safest choice, and most people aren’t bothered by 14 or 18 karat gold or sterling silver.
4. Avoid contact cause irritation.
When washing dishes or handling chemicals, wear thin cotton gloves under rubber gloves to protect your hands.
5. After bathing, moisturize your skin with fragrance-free, preservative-free lotion.
6. Use a humidifier at home and at work to keep the air from getting too dry.