Dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin. It can have many causes and usually involves swollen, reddened and itchy skin.


Dermatitis is not contagious or life threatening, although it can cause great discomfort for the sufferer.


The most common types of dermatitis are:

  • Contact dermatitis, results from contact with irritants (such as cleaning products)
  • Neurodermatitis, a chronic itchy skin condition localized to certain areas of the skin
  • Seborrheic dermatitis, seen on scalp and face that often causes dandruff
  • Atopic dermatitis, more commonly known as just eczema or atopic eczema, a chronic itchy rash that tends to come and go. Often the cause is unknown.


Your Burkes Pharmacist will be happy to help advise you on the best treatment for your condition. You should visit a doctor if;


  • You’re so uncomfortable that you’re losing sleep or are distracted from your daily routines.
  • Your skin becomes painful.
  • Your skin is infected.
  • You’ve tried self-care steps as advised by our pharmacist without success.


If you prevent your skin getting dry, it may prevent future occurrence of dermatitis. Ways to do this include:


  • Bath or shower less often and spend less time in hot water.
  • Use only mild soaps.
  • Dry yourself carefully.  Brush your skin rapidly with the palms of your hands, or gently pat your skin dry with a towel after bathing.
  • Moisturize your skin, while your skin is still damp, with oil or cream. Pay special attention to your legs, arms, back and the sides of your body. If your skin is already dry, consider using a lubricating cream made for dry skin.


 Steps can help you manage dermatitis:


  • Avoid scratching, keep nails trim or wear gloves at night to prevent scratching.
  • Apply an anti-itch cream to the affected area.
  • A non prescription hydrocortisone cream, containing at least 1% hydrocortisone, can temporarily relieve itching.  It should be used sparingly after talking to one of our pharmacists.
  • A non prescription oral antihistamine may be helpful if itching is severe.
  • A cool, wet compresses or a cool bath can help.  Colloidal oatmeal in the bath also helps.
  • Cover the affected area with bandages and dressings can help protect your skin and prevent scratching.
  • Wear smooth-textured cotton clothing.  This will help you avoid irritating the affected area.
  • Use a mild, unscented laundry detergent for washing clothes, towels and bedding etc and avoid fabric softeners.