October 27, 2013

Dermatitis – Scratching till it hurts

Latest News from The Village Observer – October 2013

THE WORD DERMATITIS comes from two Greek words and simply means skin inflammation. The skin becomes dry, itchy, red and irritated, and sufferers often scratch their skin until it becomes painful or even bleeds.

Healthy skin provides a barrier that protects the body from infection or irritation. Normal skin cells are filled with and surrounded by water and oils which help to form a protective layer, keeping the skin cells together and acting as a seal against the outside world.

In dermatitis, the skin cells do not produce as much sebum or oil as in healthy skin. This compromises the protective barrier, allowing water to escape and allergens and irritants to enter.

In older people the most common form of dermatitis is simply dry skin due to lack of production of sebum. It causes itching, which then results in red, irritated skin. In young people the most common type of dermatitis is eczema (atopic dermatitis), an inherited condition. The skin produces less sebum, as well as less of a protein that helps to provide a healthy protective barrier.

• Avoid triggers (certain foods, soaps, skin washes containing irritants such as sodium lauryl sulphate, perfumes, detergents, chlorinated swimming pools, long hot showers).
• Use dispersible oils or colloidal oatmeal in the bath or shower.
• Moisturise every day as often as you need, even up to several times per day, with a pH neutral, fragrance free moisturizer.
• Evening Primrose Oil – orally in capsule form or topically on the skin may help to relieve symptoms.
• Probiotics – particular strains of probiotics may help to prevent and even treat dermatitis.
• Calendula ointment – is effective in some forms of dermatitis.
• Topical steroids – use minimum effective dose. Apply moisturiser, then wait for 30 minutes before using corticosteroid.  Use for 1-2 weeks only as thinning of skin may occur.

There are many treatments available and it’s important to find what’s right for you. Contact us for more information.

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