Medical Specialties: Dermatology, Family practice
Dermatitis is an umbrella term that describes an epidermal inflammation that can manifest as a range of skin irritations and rashes, ranging from mild to severe.
There are several common types of dermatitis (i.e., an irritation of the skin that can manifest in redness, irritation, itchiness and rashes), including contact dermatitis (both allergic and irritant); seborrheic dermatitis; and atopic dermatitis or eczema.
Contact dermatitis occurs when the skin touches an allergic reaction stimulus (i.e., allergic contact dermatitis, such as poison ivy), or when there is an injury to the surface of the skin (i.e., irritant contact dermatitis) caused by irritants such as detergents, soaps or chemicals. Seborrheic dermatitis includes two well-known conditions: dandruff and cradle cap. Finally, atopic dermatitis is sometimes used interchangeably with eczema, and it is in large part genetic (i.e., having to do with skin barrier function); most commonly found in families with a history of environmental allergies; and usually first appears in infants. It can get worse when the skin comes into contact with irritants such as rough, scratchy clothing.