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Dermatitis is a term used to describe several types of inflammation of the upper layer of the skin. Its symptoms include itching, flaking, crusting, scaling, and thickening of the skin.

Dermatitis is most frequently caused by food allergies, contact allergies (makeup, nickel and other metals in jewelry, perfumes, creams), or toxic plant allergies such as poison ivy or poison oak.

What To Consider

If the allergy-causing factors of dermatitis are not removed and/or the affected area of the skin is excessively scratched, the dermatitis may spread and become very severe. Gastrointestinal problems such as parasites should also be screened for.

There are many types of dermatitis.

  • Contact dermatitis is an inflammation produced by substances that touch the skin, such direct irritants and allergy-causing substances, as well as exposure to light.
  • Atopic dermatitis is a severe form of dermatitis, characterized by chronic itching and inflammation of the skin. It most commonly occurs in individuals with a family history of allergic disorders such as asthma, hay fever, and milk allergies.
  • Seborrheic dermatitis refers to an inflammation of the scalp or face, and, in rare cases, on the sternum (breastbone).
  • Nummular dermatitis produces coin-shaped red bumps that cause intense itching. It most often occurs in middle-age people who are under stress and is most likely to occur in the winter.
  • Chronic dermatitis of the hands and feet, or a generalized dermatitis that affects wide areas of the skin with extreme scaling, are other forms of dermatitis.

Dermatitis is also sometimes referred to as eczema.

Self-Care Tips

In order to properly treat dermatitis, it is important to identify and eliminate food allergies and other allergy-causing substances. Follow a gluten-free diet with no wheat, oats, rye, or barley. Also avoid dairy foods, especially cow's milk, as many studies have shown this to be another major culprit food. In addition, eat lots of sauerkraut and naturally fermented foods.

Nutritional Supplementation
People with dermatitis should assess their need for digestive enzymes, and supplement accordingly. Other useful nutrients are vitamin B6 and vitamin B complex, magnesium, zinc, acidophilus, and evening primrose oil or omega-6 fatty acids from other sources.

Benzoin, chamomile, lavender, bergamot, and geranium are all useful essential oils that can be applied topically to the areas of the skin affected by dermatitis.

Flower Essences
Rescue Remedy Cream can also be applied topically.

Combine the tinctures of nettle, red clover, and cleavers in equal parts and drink 1/2 teaspoon of this mixture three times a day. Drink an infusion of fresh nettle or cleavers twice a day. To alleviate itching, bathe the affected area with lukewarm or cold chickweed infusion. For cracked, dry, or painful skin, use a salve made from calendula flowers and St. John's wort leaves.

Pulsatilla, Arsen alb., Lycopodium, Graphites, Petroleum, Sulfur, Thuja, and Sepia are useful homeopathic remedies.

Cold compress (cold and water applied to the affected areas as needed to control pain or itching).

Juice Therapy
The following juice combinations can be helpful for alleviating dermatitis symptoms: carrot, beet, cucumber, and celery; carrot, celery, and apple; and cantaloupe juice.

Topical Treatment
Aloe vera gel, pyridoxine ointment, or a mixture of vitamin E, vitamin A, unflavored yogurt, a little honey, and zinc oxide, make excellent topical salves for easing and reversing symptoms. Evening primrose oil applied directly to cracks and sore areas of the skin (folds such as elbows and behind the knee, for example) can also be very helpful in promoting healing.


If your symptoms persist despite the above measures, seek the help of a qualified health professional.

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