Last Updated: September 21, 2022

Dermatitis is an umbrella term used to describe skin inflammation from conditions such as eczema, contact dermatitis, and seborrheic dermatitis. Symptoms of these conditions include dry skin, redness, and itchiness.

Dermatitis falls under theAutoimmune DiseaseandSkin, Hair, & Nailscategories.

What is dermatitis?

Dermatitis is a general term used to describe skin inflammation resulting from a wide variety of skin conditions. Common causes of dermatitis include eczema, contact dermatitis, and seborrheic dermatitis (of which dandruff is a mild form).[1] Other causes include vascular disease, which causes stasis dermatitis,[2] or photosensitivity, which is an abnormal reaction to sun exposure.[3]

What are the main signs and symptoms of dermatitis?

People with dermatitis experience skin redness, irritation, and itchiness. The skin may blister, ooze, and appear flaky in severe cases.

How is dermatitis diagnosed?

Diagnosis is based upon medical and physical assessment findings. If these findings are unclear, further testing such as skin prick testing, blood tests measuring immune reactivity to allergens, or biopsy may be performed.

What are some of the main medical treatments for dermatitis?

Moisturizers, topical corticosteroids, and topical calcineurin inhibitors are the first-line treatments for most cases of dermatitis. Treatment choice depends upon the severity, location, and type or cause of dermatitis.[1] For contact dermatitis, avoiding the offending trigger is the first-line treatment.

Have any supplements been studied for dermatitis?

Supplements that have shown potential benefits for treating eczema are oral Vitamin E, topical Vitamin B12,[4] Vitamin D,[5] and probiotics.[6]. One study found that whey protein reduced symptoms of contact dermatitis[7]. Additionally, people who are deficient in certain minerals and nutrients — Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B12, zinc, iron — often present with dermatitis-like symptoms.[8] In this case, supplementation of the deficient nutrient is advised.

What’s the connection between diet and dermatitis?

Allergies to certain foods can cause or worsen dermatitis. The most common food allergies include peanuts, cow’s milk, soy, shellfish, wheat, and nuts.[9] Furthermore, in some people the autoimmune condition celiac disease can manifest as dermatitis herpetiformis (DH); people with DH develop blistering rashes after consuming gluten-containing foods.[10]

Are there any other treatments for dermatitis?

Avoiding irritating fabrics such as thick-fiber wool can mitigate symptoms of eczema,[11] and reducing exposure to known irritants such as pollen, dust, fragrances, etc. can reduce symptoms of contact dermatitis.[1] Fine merino wool has been demonstrated to be helpful for people with eczema, despite the fact that thick-fiber wool may exacerbate eczema symptoms.[11] Furthermore, phototherapy has been shown to be beneficial in people with eczema that does not respond to initial treatments.[12]

What causes dermatitis?

Dermatitis can be caused by endogenous (within the body) or exogenous (outside the body) factors. Endogenous dermatitis involves a pathology within the body. Examples are eczema and stasis dermatitis. On the other hand, exogenous dermatitis is precipitated by contact with substances outside the body. Examples are irritant contact dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis, and photosensitive dermatitis.[1]

Supplements Demystified: Get Our Unbiased, Evidence-Based Guide

Examine Database: Dermatitis
What works and what doesn't?

Unlock the full potential of Examine

Get started

Don't miss out on the latest research

  1. ^Woo TE, Somayaji R, Haber RM, Parsons LScratching the Surface: A Review of Dermatitis.Adv Skin Wound Care.(2019-Dec)
  2. ^Sundaresan S, Migden MR, Silapunt SStasis Dermatitis: Pathophysiology, Evaluation, and Management.Am J Clin Dermatol.(2017-Jun)
  3. ^Paek SY, Lim HWChronic actinic dermatitis.Dermatol Clin.(2014-Jul)
  4. ^Zhu Z, Yang Z, Wang C, Liu HAssessment of the Effectiveness of Vitamin Supplement in Treating Eczema: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.Evid Based Complement Alternat Med.(2019)
  5. ^Kim G, Bae JHVitamin D and atopic dermatitis: A systematic review and meta-analysisNutrition.(2016 Sep)
  6. ^Ruixue Huang, Huacheng Ning, Minxue Shen, Jie Li, Jianglin Zhang, Xiang ChenProbiotics for the Treatment of Atopic Dermatitis in Children: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled TrialsFront Cell Infect Microbiol.(2017 Sep 6)
  7. ^Soheila Alyasin, Seyed Hesamedin Nabavizadeh, Hossein Esmaeilzadeh, Seyed Taghi Heydari, Seyed Hamdollah Mosavat, Mohammad Mahdi Parvizi, Seyyed Mohammad Hashemi, Mohammad Hashem HashempurEfficacy of oral supplementation of whey protein in patients with contact dermatitis: A pilot randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trialDermatol Ther.(2020 Nov)
  8. ^Wong CY, Chu DHCutaneous signs of nutritional disorders.Int J Womens Dermatol.(2021-Dec)
  9. ^Lopez CM, Yarrarapu SNS, Mendez MDFood AllergiesStatPearls.(2022-03)
  10. ^Mirza HA, Gharbi A, Bhutta BSDermatitis HerpetiformisStatPearls.(2022-02)
  11. ^Joanna Jaros, Claire Wilson, Vivian Y ShiFabric Selection in Atopic Dermatitis: An Evidence-Based ReviewAm J Clin Dermatol.(2020 Aug)
  12. ^Pérez-Ferriols A, Aranegui B, Pujol-Montcusí JA, Martín-Gorgojo A, Campos-Domínguez M, Feltes RA, Gilaberte Y, Echeverría-García B, Alvarez-Pérez A, García-Doval IPhototherapy in atopic dermatitis: a systematic review of the literature.Actas Dermosifiliogr.(2015-Jun)
  13. ^Wang V, Boguniewicz J, Boguniewicz M, Ong PYThe infectious complications of atopic dermatitis.Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol.(2021-01)
Examine Database References
  1. Erythema - Sur R, Martin K, Liebel F, Lyte P, Shapiro S, Southall MAnti-inflammatory activity of parthenolide-depleted Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)Inflammopharmacology.(2009 Feb)
  2. Dermatitis Risk - Sharp L, Finnilä K, Johansson H, Abrahamsson M, Hatschek T, Bergenmar MNo differences between Calendula cream and aqueous cream in the prevention of acute radiation skin reactions--results from a randomised blinded trial.Eur J Oncol Nurs.(2013-Aug)
  3. Dermatitis Risk - Pommier P, Gomez F, Sunyach MP, D'Hombres A, Carrie C, Montbarbon XPhase III randomized trial of Calendula officinalis compared with trolamine for the prevention of acute dermatitis during irradiation for breast cancer.J Clin Oncol.(2004-Apr-15)
  4. Dermatitis Risk - De Angelis C, Di Stadio A, Vitale S, Saccone G, Angelis MC, Zizolfi B, Di Spiezio Sardo AUse of calendula ointment after episiotomy: a randomized clinical trial.J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med.(2022-May)
  5. Pain From Wounds - Tai RZ, Loh EW, Tsai JT, Tam KWEffect of hyaluronic acid on radiotherapy-induced mucocutaneous side effects: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.Support Care Cancer.(2022-Jun)