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What Is Dermatitis and How Can You Treat It?

March 12, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 198

The simple definition of dermatitis is inflammation of the skin. Many people think of dermatitis as synonymous with eczema but this is actually not true. Almost any rash can be thought of as a dermatitis based on this definition - including psoriasis, seborrhoea, or even skin cancer. Not every rash appearing on the scalp is dermatitis.

I have come across many different types of skin conditions, and causes of dermatitis during my time working with hair and scalp problems.

How do you get Dermatitis?

Irritant contact dermatitis can flare up after a few contacts with strong chemicals like bleach. More commonly it develops gradually through frequent wet working or working with milder chemicals like shampoo.

Allergic contact dermatitis can develop quickly after only a few contacts with a substance like shampoos or colours. Or sometimes it can take months or even years for the allergy to develop. Once you are allergic, you are allergic for life and this could happen at any time, even if you have had no problems previously in your career.

With allergic contact dermatitis, the things you can become allergic to at work might well also be in things you use at home - like your shampoo, or your household cleaners. So if you become allergic to something in the salon it could well affect all aspects of your life.

How can you tell which form of dermatitis you are suffering from?

Contact Dermatitis is a condition that can affect a scalp which has been chemically over-treated. It can also be caused by allergies to soap perfumes, washing powder or washing liquid, etc. Recognised by a dampness or wetness, it is rather like a weeping eczema that congeals on the scalp making it feel tight. It will then begin to flake, rather like a dandruff condition.

Acute dermatitis has blisters;

Sub-acute dermatitis has scaling and crusting.

Chronic dermatitis has lichenification. Lichenification is the thickening and hardening of skin where it is constantly rubbed or scratched, and the skin then becomes leathery.

If you are unfortunate enough to suffer from a severe dermatitis condition, you must seek advice from a dermatologist or your local doctor. However, if you have a mild form you can also treat the condition yourself by bathing your scalp with a very dilute salt solution - 1 teaspoon of salt to 1 pint of distilled water, or a solution of cold milk and water diluted in equal parts.

Generally, dermatitis is diagnosed clinically, meaning based on the history and appearance of the rash. If possible, the exact type of dermatitis is defined, but sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference between the dermatitis types. There are very few tests performed that help clarify the type of dermatitis.

Home treatments

Dermatitis is best treated at a clinic if the type is known. However, there are measures that can be taken to improve symptoms even if the exact dermatitis type is not known.

  • It's important to keep your skin moisturised, as dry skin condition causes cracks in the outer layer, inhibiting the barrier function of the skin.
  • Try to reduce itching and scratching with topical medications or antihistamines.
  • Avoid using drying substances that cause irritation, such as harsh detergents, bleach, or perfumes.
  • Best to treat any other rashes, particularly fungal infections, even though they may not seem to be related.

An Important Tip

Since many people are now having their hair coloured, it's as well to remember that hair dyes are more likely to produce a dermatitis condition than bleach, because they contain chemicals called diamines. As many more people are becoming sensitive to these chemicals, it is very important to do a skin patch test with each product you use.

The way to do this is to take a small amount of the hair dye, which is darker than the one you are hoping to use, and mix it with peroxide. Dab it on the skin, usually on the inside of the arm or behind the ear. It must be left undisturbed for 24 to 48 hours. If you have an allergic reaction to that particular preparation you will develop a mild inflammation, or feel the patch becoming slightly warm and starting to irritate. If this happens do not have your hair coloured.

Remember that dermatitis is not catching. It cannot be passed from one person to another. It can develop at any time, or not. Everyone is different.

David Satchell, a Consultant Trichologist, formed his company, Eucaderm Ltd over 30 years ago. After a professional career as a top hair stylist with Vidal Sassoon, David and his team began ground breaking research into what causes many of the hair and scalp problems people experience resulting from today's hectic lifestyles. David has now formulated a completely new way of looking at hair care, including diagnosis and treatment of dermatitis of the scalp.

Source: EzineArticles
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