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What is the Relationship Between Dermatitis and Eczema?

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  • Written By: Anna T.
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 15 December 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
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Dermatitis and eczema are two terms often used synonymously because many people believe they are one and the same. Eczema is actually a type of dermatitis, often called atopic dermatitis, but the term dermatitis can refer to almost any type of skin rash. Cradle cap, diaper rash, and most types of allergic skin reactions might be considered dermatitis. Dermatitis and eczema are usually treated in much the same way. People who have eczema may have problems with it their entire lives, while other types of dermatitis might be temporary.

When a person has eczema, he might develop an itchy, scaly red rash on any part of his body. Most people with eczema have certain triggers that typically set it off and are usually able to avoid severe outbreaks by avoiding those triggers. Fragrances and harsh chemicals in soaps, detergents, and any type of bath product are some common eczema triggers. People with eczema often have to use mild, fragrance-free soaps to keep their eczema from flaring up. Additionally, eczema can cause very dry skin, and people who suffer from it are often advised to use lotion regularly to help keep the dryness at bay.

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Some other types of dermatitis include diaper rash, cradle cap, and allergic contact dermatitis. Diaper rash is a temporary problem that is usually the result of a child wearing a wet or soiled diaper for a lengthy period of time. With diaper rash, the skin may become very red and sensitive, but most over-the-counter diaper rash creams can normally eliminate it. Cradle cap is the buildup of a thick, greasy residue that is yellow in color on top of a baby's scalp that usually goes away on its own as a baby gets older. Allergic contact dermatitis and eczema are similar in nature because eczema triggers are often caused by things a person might be allergic to.

Doctors usually treat most types of dermatitis and eczema in the same way, using over-the-counter ointments containing steroids as an active ingredient. Some treatments for these skin conditions are prescription only, but these are not normally needed unless the over-the-counter products are ineffective. Antihistamines might also be recommended for dermatitis and eczema because they may be able to help a person get to sleep at night and reduce skin itchiness. Even though there are many treatments available for the different types of dermatitis and eczema, most doctors agree that prevention is best. A person can attempt to determine what her triggers are and avoid them as often as possible to keep her skin outbreaks under control.

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