Skin irritation (dermatitis)

    • Brief

    • Skin irritation is caused by inflammation and leads to irritation and sensitivity of the affected skin. This may last for a short time (acute) or a long time (chronic). The condition cannot be passed on from person to person but may be uncomfortable and may make you feel self-conscious.

      Skin irritation can be treated with over-the-counter medicines applied to the area of the affected skin. Common symptoms include dryness, itchy skin, swelling, rashes and blistering. Keeping the skin moist using a skin cream or oils may reduce the effects, but identifying the irritant and avoiding it (where possible) is the best solution.

    • What are the symptoms?

      • The affected skin may be painful.
      • You may notice itching on the affected part.
      • You may notice blisters on the skin.
      • You may have a mild fever.
      • When you have eczema (atopic dermatitis) you will experience a dark, itchy rash found mostly in folds of your skin where you sweat.
      • When you have contact eczema (contact dermatitis) you will have a dark, itchy rash, usually due to contact with chemicals, soap or new cosmetics.
      • When you suffer from seborrheic eczema (seborrheic dermatitis) you will have dry, flaking and itchy skin, usually on the scalp, face or upper back. It is not clear what causes this form of eczema.
      • When you have hives you will notice an itchy, swollen skin caused by irritants that trigger allergies.

      You may experience other symptoms too. Discuss all the symptoms with your healthcare provider.

    • What are the causes?

    • Your skin irritation is often caused by contact with something that irritates your skin or sets off an allergic reaction, including cosmetics, heavy metals in water, jewellery, perfume, stress, dry skin or an infection.

    • What are the things that put you at risk?

      • If you have allergic reactions to certain medicines, foods or certain things in your environment.
      • If bacteria infect your skin, it may be more likely to react to irritants.
      • If the weather is dry (like during harmattan season) and you do not rub enough oil on your skin.
      • If you bathe too frequently (e.g. more than three times in one day), you may be at risk of having irritations due to long contact with chemicals in soaps and dry skin.
    • When to visit a doctor?

    • Some types of inflammatory dermatoses such as hives may cause life-threatening symptoms. Such as difficulty breathing or severe blistering of the skin that may require urgent medical attention. Visit your healthcare provider immediately:

      • If you notice your rash has pus in it or is looking like a wound.
      • If your rash becomes extremely painful or gets swollen.
      • If your rash begins to spread to other parts of your body.
      • If you notice a fever while you have the rash.
    • How to prevent?

    • The best way to prevent skin irritation is to avoid contact with the irritant or allergen that causes the irritation. You can do this by improving your personal hygiene, wearing protective clothing at work, take your bath with a mild soap that doesn't dry out your skin, use hypoallergenic lotions on your skin, avoid using perfumes and exercise to deal with stress.

    • How to manage and treat?

    • Self-care Tips

      • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet, keeping physically active, and practising handwashing helps your immune system effectively fight infections that can affect your skin.
      • Practice good skin hygiene by bathing daily with mild soaps.
      • Allergic reactions can cause some types of skin irritation like hives. Avoid substances that trigger your allergic reactions.
      • You can buy over-the-counter anti-itch creams to relieve your symptoms.

      Treatment Options

      • Your healthcare provider will find the cause of your rash and prescribe medicines to treat the cause.
      • You may be given stronger anti-itch and anti-infection medicines or creams to relieve your symptoms.
    • Kulawa cares

    • Inflammatory skin conditions can be mild or severe, and they mostly will resolve on their own. Practice good skin hygiene by bathing regularly and moisturising your skin. Good skin hygiene will reduce symptoms of irritation and protect your skin from rashes. Skin scarring is rare, but recurring skin irritation may lead to scarring. Identifying irritants and avoiding them is the best strategy for seasonal and recurring skin irritation.