Did you know your largest organ is on the outside of your body? Skin is the largest organ and the first defense measure the body has at protecting itself against harmful pathogens.
When skin is irritated, it will become inflamed.
Inflammation can cause skin reddening, swell, and become sensitive to touch.
Several things can cause skin inflammation: infections, drug overuse, injury, environmental toxins, and sunburn are some of the most common causes of skin inflammation.
What is skin inflammation?
The medical term for skin inflammation is dermatitis, but most people refer to it as a rash or eczema.
Dermatitis generally does not cause serious health problems, but it can cause severe discomfort. It is a common inflammation, but the causes of dermatitis differ and depending on the cause, we can recognize several types of the skin inflammation.
However, regardless of a specific cause, it is always the skin’s reaction to allergens or irritants.
When specific substances irritate the skin or cause an allergic reaction, the rash occurs on areas of the body that have come in contact. Common triggers are poison ivy, disinfectants, soaps, detergents, cosmetic in general, perfumes, and essential oils.
Metals such as nickel, cobalt, and cement can also cause our skin to react where usual symptoms of redness or itching can appear. Some plants such as mustard and clematis may impact the immune system which will result in skin’s reaction.
Irritants will physically damage the skin, while allergens will trigger a reaction from the immune system.
Contact dermatitis comes with different symptoms depending on:
● The sensitivity of your skin
● On the cause
We can recognize two types of contact dermatitis: allergic and irritant contact dermatitis.
Allergic type of dermatitis occurs when the skin is exposed to a certain substance and develops an allergic reaction. Common causes of allergic contact dermatitis are cosmetics, metals and poison ivy.
The symptoms include:
● Dry, scaly, flaky skin
● Skin redness
● Extreme itching
● Skin that appears darkened or leathery
● Skin that burns
● Sun sensitivity
● Swelling in the eyes and face
The most common type of contact dermatitis is irritant contact dermatitis that happens when the skin is in contact with toxins.
The causes of irritant contact dermatitis are bleach, kerosene, detergents, drain cleaners and even soaps and water.
The symptoms include:
● Cracking skin
● Extreme skin dryness
● Stiff or tight skin
● Open sores
How is contact dermatitis usually treated?
Most times contact dermatitis does not pose any serious threat and goes away on its own. The best way to protect the skin is to decrease exposure to those substances and materials that can trigger the skin’s reaction.
Here is a piece of advice on how to treat your skin:
● Stop using cosmetics that can trigger contact dermatitis
● Do not scratch your skin; scratching can make the skin infection worse
● Clean the skin with lukewarm water and mild soap
● If the rash is close to your eyes or mouth, search medical advice
Atopic dermatitis is known as eczema, and although the cause isn’t clear it usually happens when the body is allergic to certain food and allergens in the environment. The major health concern is that atopic dermatitis impacts skin’s ability to hold moisture.
This type of skin inflammation usually runs in the family. People who have atopic dermatitis also have a family history of asthma and hay fever and occurs most often in infants and children.
What can cause atopic dermatitis?
● Detergents and harsh soaps
● Certain foods, such as milk, fish, eggs, peanuts, wheat, or soy products
Symptoms of atopic dermatitis include dry, itchy skin and blisters, while itching is the most common symptom. People who have “super sensitive” skin are the first to develop atopic dermatitis.
When the inflammation becomes chronic, it appears as thickened, elevated plaques of scaling skin. Mild atopic dermatitis affects a small area of the skin and it can be treated with moisturizer. A severe form of atopic dermatitis is spread over a large area of the skin, and it becomes very itchy.
The affected areas in children are usually neck, wrist, ankles, legs, elbows, and knees. In babies, it is usually the scalp and face (cheeks), knees, and the back of the elbow. In adults, the rash and itching appear on elbows, knees and neck.
How is atopic dermatitis treated?
You can treat mild atopic dermatitis at home. To prevent it, moisturize skin and avoid food and materials that can trigger the rash: detergents and harsh soaps.
Neurodermatitis starts with a patch of itchy skin, that can become thick and leathery. If scratching cannot be controlled, a person can develop itchy spots, usually on the area around neck, forearm, wrist, ankle and thigh.
This type of inflammation is known as lichen simplex chronicus and although it is not contagious or life-threatening, it can become annoying and intense and impact sleep and quality of life.
The cause of neurodermatitis is not known. Sometimes starts with a bug bite. There are situations when neurodermatitis can be associated with other skin conditions, such as psoriasis or dry skin. Stress and anxiety can trigger the urge to repeatedly scratch.
Symptoms of neurodermatitis are:
● Itchy skin patches
● Leathery or scaly texture on the skin
● Rough patches, which are red or darker than the rest of the skin
Treatments for neurodermatitis are different but the success of the treatment mostly depends on resisting the urge to scratch the affected area. Sometimes creams can help ease the urge.
Who is affected?
● Women are more at risk of developing neurodermatitis
● People between ages 30 to 50 are usually affected
● People who have a family history of psoriasis, eczema or other skin conditions
● Stress and anxiety can trigger the urge to scratch
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