What is Spongiotic Dermatitis?

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  • Written By: M.C. Huguelet
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 28 January 2019
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Spongiotic dermatitis is a usually uncomfortable dermatological condition which most often affects the skin of the chest, abdomen, and buttocks. Also sometimes referred to as acute eczema, spongiotic dermatitis causes outbreaks of small, itchy red blisters which can ooze and scar when scratched. Outbreaks of the condition, which can affect both children and adults, are usually brought on by exposure to an allergen. Treatment typically involves determining which substance has caused the outbreak and eliminating exposure to it, as well using anti-inflammatory creams to soothe the skin.

The most prominent characteristic of this type of dermatitis is a rash of small, red blisters which appears on the skin of the chest, midsection, buttocks, or a combination of these. This rash is usually accompanied by mild to intense itchiness. Scratching the rash, while tempting, should be avoided, as it can cause the blisters to break, ooze, and become crusted. This, in turn, can lead to increased itchiness, pain, and even permanent scarring.

Generally, outbreaks of spongiotic dermatitis are brought on by exposure to an allergen to which an individual has a particular sensitivity. The list of substances which may be at fault is long, and a substance which causes an onset of the condition in one person may cause no reaction in another. Potential allergens can include certain foods, cleaning products, soaps, perfumes, medications, cigarette smoke, or insect bites.


Due to the fact this condition can be caused by exposure to a wide range of allergens, it can be difficult to determine what has led to an outbreak. Often, the only way to pinpoint the allergen in question is through process of elimination. In other words, those suffering from an outbreak should make a note of any new substances they may have been exposed to shortly before their rash appeared. They should then eliminate exposure to each substance one by one, allowing time after each elimination to determine whether the rash improves. Note that multiple substances may cause spongiotic dermatitis in the same individual.

In addition to pinpointing and eliminating the rash-causing allergen, treatment for spongiotic dermatitis may include the use of anti-inflammatory creams to soothe the skin and ease itching. Mild versions of these creams are generally available over the counter, while stronger formulations may require a doctor’s prescription. Additionally, those suffering from an outbreak of the condition may wish to combat itchiness by wear loose-fitting cotton clothing and bathing in warm water to which a small amount of dry oatmeal has been added.


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Post 8

@ turquoise

Post 2

I just had a biopsy last week and just got the call from the doc that it was spongiotic dermatitis. So how can my biopsy show that if you just said that it can't specifically? They did not even know what causes it, let alone ever heard of it. Talk about being a quack. Ugh. I've been going through this for almost a year. I've been on topical and oral steroids, had a nasty infection plus hives and had to have antibiotics (which I hate) and come to find out I was very allergic to and made it 100 times worse, and now they finally come up with this diagnosis?

Post 7

I have spongy painful areas upper arms, shoulder, lower back, neck, behind ears and the doctor couldn't make a diagnosis. Could this be spongiosis?

Post 6

I had a biopsy that suggested spongiotic dermatitis with eosinophils. This was following an outbreak that lasted a full month. I had the 36 point patch test and it came back clear. The redness, edema, and itching started spontaneously. I awoke with swollen, very red, itchy face and arms. Gradually it affected my entire body with exception of buttocks and feet. What I find different here in my case is that the rash was painful to touch, very red, but no blisters. That is the part I don't understand. The lab report says spongiotic, with eosinophils, but everything I read about it mentions the blisters. Anyone have thoughts on that?

Post 5

I'm so confused I have been diagnosed with genital herpes, but symptoms don't match! My symptoms match this, especially the use of hydrocortisone cream. Geez!

Post 4

I take 25mg of benadryl every day for my rash. It calms down the histamines and takes the itching away and the angry rash to lessen.

If I go longer than 24 hours without taking it, I know I am late because the symptoms flare back up.

Post 3

I have this and I hate it. My doctor says that it's allergic but they can't say what I'm allergic to. It's such a frustrating condition, the cause is not know and the treatments are a hit or miss.

Post 2

@ddljohn-- A biopsy can be done. A biopsy won't say that you have spongiotic dermatitis specifically, but it can tell you whether you have eczema. Spongiotic dermatitis is considered to be a type of eczema.

You can also get a prick test or a patch test to see if you have allergies to soaps, detergents and the like. These tests together should clarify what type of dermatitis you have.

I think corticosteroid cream is usually prescribed for spongiotic dermatitis. That's what I'm using, I've never heard of people taking antihistamines for it.

Post 1

How is spongiotic dermatitis diagnosed?

I have small, itchy, red blisters on my stomach but my doctor hasn't been able to figure out what they are.

Since this is an allergic dermatitis, will antihistamines work?

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