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What are the Causes of Dermatitis?

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  • Written By: Stacy C.
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 22 August 2016
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There are many different causes of dermatitis, which is broadly defined as inflammation of the skin. Much of the time, rashes and itchy skin are caused by an allergic reaction to something, but the specific cause of the allergic response can vary greatly from person to person. Some of the more common allergens that can cause a bad reaction include chemicals in laundry soap or cleaning supplies, makeup, perfume, moisturizer, and materials such as rubber or metal. Dermatitis can also be a symptom of another medical condition or a result of the environment in which the person suffering from dermatitis lives.

Contact dermatitis is one of the common types of the condition, accounting for about 80 percent of all occurrences. It happens when a substance irritates the skin upon touching it. It can be caused because of allergies, because the substance includes an extremely caustic chemical such as acetone or kerosene, or because the substance is simply harsh on soft skin. Even a scratchy wool sweater can cause dermatitis.

Dermatitis is also sometimes caused by other illnesses. Gastrointestinal problems can cause dermatitis — a type called dermatitis herpetiformis is a direct result of celiac disease, for instance. Likewise, seborrheic dermatitis, characterized by flaky skin on the head and torso, is a symptom of Parkinson's disease. It also affects a large percentage of people with AIDS.

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Although many causes of dermatitis are external sources, skin inflammation can also be the result of things beyond the sufferer's control. A person's genetics can determine whether or not they are prone to dermatitis; a damaged immune system can also increase the probability. Although stress has not been proven to be one of the causes of dermatitis, studies have shown that it can worsen an already existing condition.

How dermatitis should be treated is usually dependent upon the cause and severity of the problem. Natural remedies for dry, itchy skin include moisturizing with a fragrance-free lotion, eliminating foods or materials that may be causing a bad reaction, or participating in a relaxing activity such as yoga or meditation. Over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams may be effective in soothing and treating mild to moderate dermatitis as well. Severe cases that involve blisters, pustules, open wounds or cracks in the skin will likely require a trip to the doctor to receive a prescription for an antihistamine, a steroid cream, an oral antibiotic or even exposure to ultraviolet light as part of phototherapy.

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turquoise
Post 3

ZipLine-- There are many things that might be causing dermatitis. You did the right thing by switching to cotton panties.

Have you also switched to fragrance-free laundry detergent and body soap/bodywash? The perfumes and chemicals in hygiene products can also cause dermatitis.

My roommate once had dermatitis in the same area and she eventually discovered that her pantyliners were the problem. She was using ones with fragrance and she was allergic to it. Condoms with latex and lubricants with fragrance can cause it too.

You need to basically go through all these and switch to hypo-allergenic, fragrance-free, natural alternatives.

ZipLine
Post 2

I've been having flaky, itchy skin around the genital area for the past several weeks. I thought I was reacting to the synthetic materials in my underwear. But I switched to cotton underwear and the dermatitis is still there.

What else could be causing it? I don't know what to do.

SarahGen
Post 1

Dermatitis can also be an autoimmune disease. My sister has something called autoimmune progesterone dermatitis. She develops dermatitis on her skin every month around the same time. Apparently, it has to do with progesterone hormone levels in her body. Her immune system reacts this way when progesterone goes up.

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