Dermatologists and Skin Care Data Verified

Dermatitis - a Distressing Disease

Written by
Dr. Suvash Sahu
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Published on Jul 28, 2016 and last reviewed on Sep 07, 2018   -  4 min read


This article discusses various phases of dermatitis (also known as eczema) with their causes and management.

Dermatitis - a Distressing Disease

Eczema is a group of skin conditions with different causes, but clinically similar presentation. These are defined as a pattern of skin inflammation having characteristic morphologies during its acute, subacute and chronic phases.

Phases of Eczema

  1. Acute phase.
  2. Subacute phase.
  3. Chronic phase.

Acute Phase:

In acute phase, there will be erythema or redness, edema or swelling, vesiculation or fluid filled lesions, discharge and crusting.

Subacute Phase:

Subacute phase exhibits hyperpigmentation, scaling and crusting.

Chronic Phase:

In chronic phase, there will be lichenification. It is a combination of thickening, hyperpigmentation and prominent skin markings.

Classification of Eczema

It can be broadly divided into two groups. They are,

  1. Exogenous eczemas.
  2. Endogenous eczemas.

Exogenous Eczemas

Exogenous eczemas could either be irritant or allergic in nature.

1. Irritant Contact Dermatitis:

Irritant contact dermatitis type of eczema is caused by many agents, whose toxins or excretory products cause a variable degree of involvement depending upon their concentration and duration of contact with the skin of everyone exposed to them.

These agents can be any of the following:

  1. Chemical: Detergents, soaps, acids, etc.
  2. Physical: Sunlight, heat, etc.
  3. Biological: Bacteria, virus, mites, lice, etc.

2. Allergic Contact Dermatitis:

Endogenous Eczemas

Some common types of endogenous eczemas are as follows.

1. Atopic Dermatitis:

Atopic dermatitis is a chronic eczema. It is one of the atopic conditions, together with asthma and hay fever, has a heritable tendency.

2. Seborrheic Dermatitis:

There is an excessive sebum secretion in this type of eczema presenting with scaly, itchy lesions over the scalp, nasolabial folds, sternal areas and body folds.

3. Discoid Eczema:

Chronic recurrent discrete coin-shaped red areas covered with exudates and crust over the limbs and trunk of the middle aged due to as yet unknown causative factors. Sometimes, it is very difficult to distinguish discoid eczema from psoriasis.

4. Pompholyx:

In this type of eczema, vesicular eruptions are generally seen on the palms or soles. The lesions may be non-inflammatory, chronic and recurrent. The exact cause of pompholyx is not known.

General Principles of Therapy

Local Treatment

Treatment for Acute Stage:

Normal saline or potassium permanganate (1:10,000 dilution) compresses or soaks are given to wash away serous discharge, crust and debris and it also helps to reduce oozing and inflammation. Calamine lotion should not be used. In case of discharge avoid ointment or cream, corticosteroids in lotion form may be used.

Treatment for Subacute Stage:

When there is no oozing or discharge or in cases of subacute or dry eczemas, corticosteroid cream is to be applied locally twice a day. Local antibiotic cream with or without corticosteroid, is helpful where bacteria is present.

Treatment for Chronic Stage:

When the skin becomes thick or lichenified, occlusive dressing with a corticosteroid ointment is required. Alternatively, a moderately potent corticosteroid ointment can be applied locally two to three times a day. The addition of 3% Salicylic acid to the corticosteroid ointment is beneficial.

Systemic Treatment

For further information regarding eczema and its management, consult an eczema specialist online -->


This is a sponsored Ad. icliniq or icliniq doctors do not endorse the content in the Ad.

Last reviewed at:
07 Sep 2018  -  4 min read




Comprehensive Medical Second Opinion.Submit your Case

Related Questions & Answers

Is the itchy painful lesion in fingers due to fungal infection?

Query: Hello doctor, Eczema or fungus on right thumb and index, it looks like it is expanding and it leaves apparently dead skin behind which peels off. I have pictures for a better understanding. It itches none to moderately, it hurts slightly when applied pressure on. I am a driver.  Read Full »

I have itching and hot feeling in between my thigh and vagina. Why?

Query: Hello doctor, I have a strong itching and hot feeling in the space between my left thigh and vagina. What could be causing this? I am really not able to tell if there is a color change.  Read Full »

Is it safe to use Corticosteroid cream on cheeks for eczema?

Query: Hi doctor, I have eczema. There is redness in my cheeks. I have used Corticosteroid cream for six days. Are there any side effects in using it?  Read Full »

Popular Articles Most Popular Articles

Do you have a question on Irritant Dermatitis or Eczema?

Ask a Doctor Online

* guaranteed answer within 4 hours.

Disclaimer: All health articles published on this website are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice or treatment by a trained physician. Seek the advice from your physician or other qualified health-care providers with questions you may have regarding your symptoms and medical condition for a complete medical diagnosis. Do not delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this website.