Dermatitis is a rash that causes itching, but the reverse is also true, with scratching being the one that causes the rash. Even though dermatitis may look different from person to person, it usually looks like purgative, dry, red spots. It’s estimated that 31.6 million people in the US have some form of eczema and that one in 10 individuals will develop it during their lifetime, with prevalence peaking in early childhood. Atopic dermatitis is not solely a childhood-onset condition; 1 in 4 adults report adult-onset of initial symptoms. An estimated 16.5 million US adults have dermatitis that initially began at >2 years of age. The word “atopic” indicates an association with allergies. While atopic dermatitis is not always due to an allergic reaction, it’s commonly associated with other allergic disorders: up to 60% of people with atopic dermatitis develop asthma or hay fever later in life, and up to 30% have food allergies.
Although scientists do not fully know what causes dermatitis yet, it appears to be an abnormal inflammatory reaction of the immune system in response to an irritating factor — whatever it is, from dust mites to rough tissues and even detergents.
18 Ways to Treat Dermatitis at Home
If the avoidance of triggers can be learned, the best strategy is to control the skin’s itching and dryness, signs that usually accompany eczema. Experts say that, in general, the best way to get rid of itching is to keep some areas of dry skin well moist. Because of this, many remedies for dry skin can be successfully applied in this case as well.
Avoid dry air
Dermatitis is aggravated by dry air, especially in winter, in homes and offices with central heating. As dry air tends to exacerbate the itching of eczema or dermatitis, keeping humid air indoors should be a priority for sufferers, says dermatologist Howard Donsky.
Take baths with warm water
A warm bath helps to cleanse and moisturize the skin without subsequently drying it. Steam baths, showers, or baths lasting more than 10 minutes will aggravate your condition. When wiping water from your body, dab the skin with a towel rather than rubbing it. Remember always to use a skin moisturizer for the next three minutes after getting out of the bathtub.
Moisturize the skin
Moisturizing after washing is more important than the type of soap you use, but most dermatologists are against regular soap and specially scented soap; even baby bath products can irritate the skin. Your pharmacist or doctor can recommend many substitutes, so you may need to try different types of soaps before finding the right one. You can take a bath whenever you want if you take care to moisturize your skin, says dermatologist Hillard Pearlstein. “The skin dries out due to water loss, not fat, and the fat in your moisturizer keeps the water inside the skin.”
Take a bath with rice flour
For additional soothing treatment, Dr. Donsky recommends adding products containing colloidal oatmeal to the bathwater or even using rice flour as a soap substitute. The term “colloidal” means that the cereal has been grounded so finely that, mixed with water, it remains in suspension. Pour two cups of collodion oatmeal into the tub with warm water. To use it as a soap substitute, put it in a cloth handkerchief, tie the ends with an elastic band, soak it in water and use it like a sponge.
Metal salts such as aluminum chloride, aluminum sulfate, and zirconium hydrochloride are active ingredients in many antiperspirants, but people with sensitive skin can irritate. Usually, the antiperspirant, unlike the deodorant, is the one that irritates. You can try L’Occitane Cooling Deodorant, without aluminum, formulated with ingredients from organic farming – check it on Amazon.
Use refreshing calamine lotions
Calamine lotion is recommended in various rashes that sweat and need to be dried, says dermatologist John Romano. One of the principal ingredients in calamine lotion is zinc oxide. Zinc is known as a beneficial treatment for itch because it inhibits mast cell degranulation while reducing the secretion of histamine that contributes to itching. Also, with its strong antibacterial and antioxidant action, topical zinc oxide has also been used in treating atopic dermatitis. There’s a skin protectant lotion on Amazon with 8% calamine.
Wear cotton clothes
Wear cotton clothing directly on the skin, which is much better than polyester and even wool. Avoid fabrics made of synthetic fibers that itch, as well as tight and uncomfortable clothing.
Test your diet
Food allergies can play an essential role in triggering atopic dermatitis. It’s been known that multiple food allergens may serve as triggers for dermatitis. If you suspect that any of the foods you usually eat hurt your skin, avoid it and notice the effect.
Increase endurance by consuming omega-3 fatty acids
Salmon, mackerel, and other fatty fish contain omega-3 fatty acids and other fatty acids, which can help prevent allergies and inflammation, both associated with dermatitis.
Avoid sudden changes in temperature
If you have eczema, sudden changes in temperature can be a problem. Leaving a warm room in the cold winter air can trigger itching. You can best protect yourself by wearing several layers of cotton clothing and avoiding hot baths.
Look for emollients that contain urea
Urea-containing emollients are good enough to soothe itching caused by eczema. Urea is a stripping agent, and it’s used when the skin is thickened due to rubbing and scratching. Participants reported skin improvement more frequently with urea‐containing cream than placebo in a study that involved 129 patients. Thus, products that contain urea are worth a try. They are found in pharmacies.
Beware of baby lotions
The baby lotion is not always the most suitable for eczema. They usually have a high water content that can keep the skin dry and irritated when the water evaporates. On the other hand, some perfumes and active ingredients in children’s lotions, such as lanolin and Vaseline, are common causes of skin allergies. Instead, use simple emollients, such as aqueous cream or emulsions. E45 Dermatological Cream Treatment is suitable for dermatitis or other dry skin conditions.
Drink Oregon grape root tea
The root of Mahonia aquifolium is amazingly effective in most cases. Put one tablespoon of dried root and 250ml of boiling water and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and drink every morning. Don’t be disappointed if the tea doesn’t have an immediate effect. You must use this remedy for at least three months to prove its effectiveness. This study’s data indicates that a proprietary form of Mahonia aquifolium is effective and well-tolerated in people with mild to moderate psoriasis. Chronic dermatitis, eczema, or psoriasis can improve if you use this herb for long periods.
Beware of Chinese herbs
Several small-scale experiments in the West have highlighted the somewhat beneficial effect of herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine to reduce inflammation and treat dermatitis. The plants are consumed in the form of tea or are mixed into skin creams. However, there are some scientific reports of liver damage caused by the use of herbal preparations, and suspicions have been raised that potent steroids have been secretly introduced into “herbal” creams. It is best to avoid such things if you do not get them from a licensed practitioner or dermatologist.
Antihistamines lessen the symptoms of classic allergies such as headaches, runny nose, and itching. Over-the-counter antihistamines can be useful for eczema. They reduce itching because they prevent histamine from reaching sensitive skin cells and causing them to become inflamed. The authors of this study state that although antihistamines are often used in the treatment of atopic dermatitis, little objective evidence exists to demonstrate pruritis relief. However, follow the recommendations on the label and remember that some antihistamines cause drowsiness.
Wash once, rinse twice
When washing something, thoroughly remove all traces of detergent with a thorough rinse. Do not use too much detergent, and always use the second rinse cycle to remove all traces. If you have sensitive skin, it is suggested to avoid biological detergents based on enzymes. In case you use fabric softener to soften your clothes, buy one recommended for such skin. See FREY Natural Liquid Fabric Softener on Amazon, safe for you and the environment.
Keep an eye on your eyes
In a 20-year study of 492 subjects, 13% of people with atopic dermatitis developed cataracts over time. It is undeniable that there is a higher incidence of cataracts in people with atopic dermatitis. That is why it is good to go to the ophthalmologist regularly.
Cold, wet compresses can help soothe and stop the itching associated with eczema that progresses so unpleasantly that it begins to swell. I recommend using cold milk instead of water because it’s much calmer. Pour milk into a glass with ice cubes and leave it for a few minutes. Then soak a gauze compress in milk and apply it on irritated skin for 2-3 minutes. Moisten the compress again and repeat the procedure for about 10 minutes.
When to see a doctor
When eczema is severe or spread over a large area, and home remedies and over-the-counter medications do not calm the itching, see a doctor. There are many medications that only your doctor can recommend. At the same time, a doctor is the only one able to rule out other medical causes of dermatitis. For example, lupus, an autoimmune disorder, is one such disease. Lupus causes a red rash on the cheeks or at the root of the nose. When one area heals, another it forms. These wounds itch and flake off. Sun exposure, certain medications, and an emotional crisis are factors that typically trigger lupus attacks. If an excessively dehydrating eczema, known as wet eczema, does not react quickly to wet compresses applied several times a day or if it appears to be infected, see a doctor.
Is it an eruption caused by nickel?
A different kind of irritation, called contact dermatitis, is obviously caused by an irritating factor. An increasingly common type of irritation is caused by nickel. Nickel dermatitis occurs ten times more often in women than in men and is often triggered by ear piercing. Strangely, a person with ear holes gets irritated in other areas of the body whenever she or he comes in contact with a metal object containing nickel. Suddenly, bracelets, necklaces, and watches that you have worn for years can cause contact dermatitis. If this happens to you, the following suggestions may help:
Buy stainless steel earrings
Immediately after you have pierced your ears, it is best to wear only stainless steel earrings until the earlobes heal for about three weeks.
Stay in a cool place
Since sweat plays an essential role in nickel dermatitis — it extracts nickel from nickel-plated jewelry — avoid the sun if you wear this type of jewelry. Also, take them out if you go to a place where it’s super hot.
Dermatologists suggest buying only good quality gold jewelry. If it has less than 24k, then there is a nickel quantity in the composition; the fewer carats, the more nickel.
Examine your diet
Some dermatologists warn their nickel-sensitive patients to be careful about what they eat. Because nickel dermatitis can occur without apparent contact with nickel, doctors recommend avoiding black tea, canned foods, seeds, nuts, and other foods rich in nickel.
Prevention begins in childhood
It’s usual for women with atopic dermatitis to protect their newborns from this discomfort. After conducting 18 scientific studies, Israeli researchers have found conclusive evidence. In families with a history of atopic dermatitis, only breastfeeding in the first three months can protect children from childhood dermatitis. The preventive role of breastfeeding was less evident in children from families without a history and negligible in children who did not have very close relatives who had suffered from atopic dermatitis.