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Author: Dr Amanda Oakley, Dermatologist, Hamilton, New Zealand,1997.
Dermatitis refers to a group of itchy inflammatory conditions characterised by epidermal changes.
Dermatitis affects about one in every five people at some time in their lives. It results from a variety of different causes and has various patterns.
The terms dermatitis and eczema are often used interchangeably. In some cases, the term eczematous dermatitis is used. Dermatitis can be acute or chronic or both.
An in-between state is known as subacute eczema.
Psychological stresses can provoke or aggravate dermatitis, presumably by suppressing normal immune mechanisms.
An important aspect of treatment is to identify and tackle any contributing factors (see above).
Dermatitis is often a long-term problem. When you notice your skin getting dry, moisturise your skin again and carefully avoid the use of soap. If the itchy rash returns, use both the moisturiser and the steroid cream or ointment. If it fails to improve within two weeks, see your doctor for further advice.
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