Eczema and dermatitis mean much the same thing, except that dermatitis is caused by something external, while eczema is an allergic condition that does not need an outside substance to trigger it.


The rash of eczema/dermatitis typically has dry flaky skin that may be inflamed and may include small red spots. The skin may be cracked and weepy and is sometimes thickened.


  • The rash occurs in infants in the nappy area, neck, back of scalp, face and back of wrists.
  • The rash occurs in children behind the knees on the inside of the elbow, around wrists, ankles, hands and eyes.
  • The rash occurs in adults on the neck, back of hands, groin, around the anus, the ankles and the feet.


Substances irritating the skin cause contact dermatitis and these must be identified in order to effectively treat the condition. Common allergenic substances include; alkaline cleansers, degreasing agents, solvents, oil, oxidisers, and reducers (i.e., hairdressing chemicals).


Contact dermatitis may also be caused by contact with cement, rust, costume jewellery (frequently from the nickel content), rubber, resins, dyes, certain plants, eye make-up, perfume, etc.