Frequently Asked Questions


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What is dermatitis?

Dermatitis is skin inflammation. You may have an itchy rash, redness, or swelling. You may also have bumps or blisters that crust over or ooze clear fluid.

What causes dermatitis?

Dermatitis may be caused by allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, pollen, and certain foods. Dermatitis can also develop when something touches your skin and irritates it or causes an allergic reaction. Examples include soaps, chemicals, latex, and poison ivy.

How is dermatitis diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine your skin. He will ask questions about your rash and any other symptoms you have. Tell him if you noticed anything trigger your rash, such as a certain food or activity. Tell him about any medicines you are taking or any allergies or medical conditions you have.

How is dermatitis treated?

Treatment depends on the cause of your rash. You may need medicines to help decrease itching and inflammation or treat a bacterial infection. They may be given as a topical cream, shot, or a pill.

How can I manage my symptoms?

  • Apply a cool compress to your rash. This will help soothe your skin.

  • Keep your skin moist. Rub unscented cream or lotion on your skin to prevent dryness and itching. Do this right after a lukewarm bath or shower when your skin is still damp.

  • Avoid skin irritants. Avoid skin irritants, such as makeup, hair products, soaps, and cleansers. Use products that do not contain fragrances or dye.

Call 911 if you have any of the following symptoms of anaphylaxis:

  • Sudden trouble breathing

  • Throat swelling and tightness

  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting, or confusion

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You develop a fever or have red streaks going up your arm or leg.

  • Your rash gets more swollen, red, or hot.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • Your skin blisters, oozes white or yellow pus, or has a foul smelling discharge.

  • Your rash spreads or does not get better, even after treatment.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

Learn more about Dermatitis