Young girl showing elbow

Types of Dermatitis

The word dermatitis means inflammation of the skin and there are many types of dermatitis.

The skin is made up of layers and the outermost layer is the skin barrier. This layer contains skin cells bound together by lipids. Dermatitis can make the skin barrier become inflamed in response to allergens. It can also result in moisture loss leading to dry skin.

Dermatitis has many causes and isn’t contagious. It is caused by a combination of factors that affect the skin. These factors are the immune system, genetics, the environment, and exposure to irritants.

Some people are more likely to have dermatitis if it exists in their family. Genetics play an additional role in dermatitis as gene variations affect the protein filaggrin. This change in filaggrin prevents the body from keeping the skin healthy.

The immune system can overreact to irritants and lead to inflammation. Cold, dry air in the environment can make this inflammation worse. In some people, the exposure to household or industrial chemicals can lead to certain types of dermatitis.

There are several types of dermatitis:

  • Eczema
  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Seborrheic dermatitis
  • Follicular eczema
  • Allergic contact dermatitis
  • Neurodermatitis
  • Diaper dermatitis
  • Nummular dermatitis
  • Perioral dermatitis
  • Statisdermatisis

Eczema is a form of dermatitis. While some types of dermatitis are painful, such as contact dermatitis, eczema is itchy.  There are several types of eczema. These include hand eczema, contact dermatitis, and atopic dermatitis.

Atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema. It usually starts in infancy and affects between 15% to 20% of children worldwide. Both patients and physicians often use the term eczema when they are discussing atopic dermatitis.


Each form of dermatitis presents slightly different symptoms on different areas of the body. A common symptom of dermatitis is an itchy rash which appears in eczema and contact dermatitis. Other symptoms include scaly patches, skin bumps, and skin thickening.

Dermatitis can affect a patient’s quality of life. Scratching itchy rashes can lead to loss of sleep and cause drowsiness during the day. Scarred and inflamed skin can leave the patient self-conscious and embarrassed.


There are several types of treatments available for the different kinds of dermatitis. These include topical, oral, light therapy and probiotics.

It is important to create a treatment plan with a doctor. Treatment plans need to take into account any potential side effects. Any treatment plan needs to be monitored for effectiveness. Check at regular intervals to see if the symptoms have improved.


Cleveland Clinic:


Karger International:

“Atopic Dermatitis: Global Epidemiology and Risk Factors”


“What to Know About Your Skin Barrier and How to Protect It”