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What is dermatitis? — Dermatitis is a type of skin rash that can happen after your skin touches something that irritates it or something you are allergic to.
Things that irritate the skin can be found in products that you use every day, such as soaps or cleansers. Some of the things that can cause skin allergies include:
●Certain medicines, perfumes, or cosmetics
●The metal in some kinds of jewelry
●Plants, such as poison ivy and poison oak
Sometimes, you can develop a rash the first time you touch something. But it is also possible to get a rash from something that you have used before without any problems.
What other symptoms should I watch for? — If you have a rash, your skin might be dry, itchy, or cracked (picture 1). In people with light skin, the rash is often red. In people with darker skin, it might appear purple, brown, gray, or black (picture 2). If your rash is caused by an allergy, you might also have some swelling or blisters where you have the rash.
Severe symptoms include:
●Blisters, oozing, or crusting of the skin
Is there anything I can do on my own? — Yes. You can:
●Avoid using or touching whatever might have caused your rash.
●Protect your skin from anything that might irritate it or cause an allergy. For example, wear gloves if you need to work with harsh soaps.
●Use cool or warm water, not hot, for baths and showers. You can also try a special kind of bath called an oatmeal bath.
●Try using soothing skin products to help with the itching and discomfort. Examples include thick moisturizing cream or petroleum jelly. Put this on your skin right after you get out of the bath or shower and after washing your hands.
●Avoid scratching your skin. It might help to:
•Wear cotton gloves at night.
•Keep your nails short and clean.
•Cover the parts of your skin that itch.
How are skin rashes treated? — Your doctor might prescribe different treatments or medicines to help your rash heal. These can include:
●Steroid creams and ointments – These go on the skin, and they relieve itching and redness.
●Steroid pills – You might need to take these for a short time if your rash is severe. But your doctor or nurse will want to take you off of the steroid pills as soon as possible. Even though these medicines help, they can also cause problems of their own.
●Wet or damp dressings – These can be helpful for skin that is crusting or oozing. To use a wet or damp dressing, you need to wear 2 layers of clothing. First, put on a layer of damp cotton clothes over your rash. Then, put on a layer of dry clothes on top of the damp ones. People who need these dressings often wear them at night when they sleep.
When should I call the doctor? — Call your doctor or nurse for advice if:
●You have a rash that does not go away within 2 weeks.
●Your rash gets worse or spreads over large parts of your body.
●You have signs of infection like swelling, warmth, pain, or fever.
Patient education: Itchy skin (The Basics)
Patient education: Eczema (atopic dermatitis) (The Basics)
Patient education: Pyoderma gangrenosum (The Basics)
Patient education: How to use topical medicines (The Basics)
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