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When it comes to dermatitis and eczema, it’s important to know the ‘type’ of condition you have, so you can best treat it and understand what irritants can aggravate it:

Atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is the most common and the most severe form of eczema, it is chronic and inflammatory. Surprisingly, the exact cause of atopic dermatitis is unknown, it usually begins in childhood, often in the first six months of life and tends to fluctuate in severity.1


  • Dry, scaly skin
  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Cracks behind the ears
  • Rash often on the cheeks, arms and legs
  • Open, crusted or ‘weepy’ sores (common during flare-ups)3


  • Dry skin: Dry skin can easily become brittle, scaly, rough, and tight resulting in atopic dermatitis.
  • Irritants: Everyday products/substances (hand and dish soap, laundry detergent, shampoo, bubble bath and body wash, or surface cleaners and disinfectants) anything  that can cause skin to burn, itch, or become dry and red.
  • Stress:  Emotional stress can cause atopic dermatitis to worsen.
  • Hot or cold temperatures and sweating: This can lead to itchy skin or ‘prickly heat’ symptoms. Very dry skin can cause atopic dermatitis can develop during winter.
  • Infection: Infection from bacteria and viruses that live in your environment (like staph, herpes, or fungi).
  • Allergens:  Everyday materials in the environment such as pollen, dust mites, pet hair and mould.
  • Hormones: Atopic dermatitis may worsen when certain hormones in the body fluctuate. 4

Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis occurs when the skin comes in contact with irritating substances or allergens. These irritants cause the skin to become inflamed, causing it to burn, itch and redden. It usually develops on areas of the body that are most likely to come in contact with irritants, such as the hands, and legs.


  • Industrial chemicals
  • Detergents
  • Fumes/fragrance
  • Solvents
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Paints
  • Bleach
  • Wool
  • Acidic Foods
  • Astringents
  • Skin care products that content alcohol (but not cetyl alcohol)
  • Some soaps and fragrances
  • Allergens (usually animal dander or pollens)


  • Redness and rash
  • Burning or swelling
  • Blisters that weep or crust

Dyshidrotic eczema

Dyshidrotic eczema is a skin condition that yields small, itchy blisters on the edges of the fingers, toes, palms, and soles of the feet. Although this conditions is a less common form of eczema, it is twice as common in women as it is in men.


  • Small fluid-filled blisters (vesicles) on the fingers, hands, and feet
  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Flaking
  • Scaly, cracked skin
  • Pain


  • Stress
  • Allergies (such as hay fever)
  • Moist hands and feet
  • Exposure to nickel (in metal-plated jewelry)
  • cobalt (found in metal-plated objects, and in pigments used in paints and enamels)
  • chromium salts (used in the manufacturing of cement, mortar, leather, paints, and anticorrosives)

Hand eczema

Hand eczema or hand dermatitis is a very common form of eczema, in fact, up to 10% of the population suffers from this type of eczema. Those with a genetic predisposition are more likely to get hand eczema, however it forms as a results of contact with allergens or irritating substances like chemicals.


  • Dryness, to the point of peeling and flaking
  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Pain
  • Cracks in the skin
  • Blisters


Neurodermatitis (also known as lichen simplex chronicus). It is an itchy skin disease that is similar to atopic dermatitis. People with neurodermatitis tend to get thick, scaly patches on their skin as a result of abrasion of the area, such as too much rubbing and scratching.


  • Thick, scaly patches on the nape of the neck, scalp, shoulders, on the bottoms of feet, on ankles, wrists and backs of the hands
  • Itching
  • Discoloured skin


The cause of neurodermatitis is unknown, however certain triggers such as an insect bite and stress seem to play a role. In neurodermatitis, the nerves in the skin appear be overly ready to tell the brain that there is itch. Sometimes, neurodermatitis can occur with a skin allergy.

Nummular eczema

Nummular eczema (also known as discoid eczema and nummular dermatitis) is a common type of eczema, it is different than the usual eczema and can be much more difficult to treat.
Those suffering from nummular eczema develop circular-shaped spots on their skin, which become very itchy. Due to its fungal like appearance it can often appear to look like ring worm. The cause of nummular eczema is unknown, however researchers suspect t could be genetic.
Many people, even those who have a severe nummular eczema seem to clear up completely and do not appear to have the long-term issues like other forms of eczema.


  • Round, coin-shaped spots
  • Itching
  • Dry, scaly skin
  • Wet, open sores


  • insect bites,
  • reactions to skin inflammation,
  • Dry skin in the colder months.

Stasis dermatitis

Stasis dermatitis (sometimes called venous stasis dermatitis) because it usually happens when there is a problem with blood flow in the veins and pressure develops (usually in the lower legs). This pressure can cause fluid to leak out of the veins and into the skin, resulting in stasis dermatitis.

Stasis dermatitis tends to come back until the underlying is addressed.


  • Swelling around the ankles
  • Redness
  • Scaling
  • Itching
  • Pain

And in more severe cases:

  • Oozing
  • Open areas (cracking or larger ulcers)
  • Infection


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