Identifying the Different Types of Dermatitis

Written by
November 15, 2023

DermatitisDermatitis is a term used to describe a range of conditions involving skin inflammation. These conditions may cause symptoms such as red rashes, itchiness, and dry skin. They can range from minor to severe but are not contagious.

There are many different types of dermatitis, each with its own causes, and, outside of the shared symptoms like redness, each type of dermatitis has distinct symptoms. It can be difficult to differentiate the different types to ensure you treat the symptoms correctly. Discover the differences between the most common types of dermatitis and how to identify them.

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is most often referred to as eczema, which causes inflammation and redness of the skin. It’s a chronic condition that typically begins in childhood but can happen at any age.


The most common symptoms of eczema include:

  • Itchiness
  • Inflamed, red patches of skin
  • Rashes that ooze
  • Hard or thick areas of skin

Irritant and Allergic Contact Dermatitis

This type of dermatitis is caused by contact with an irritant or allergen in your environment. Allergens may include plants, topical creams, sunscreens, preservatives, dyes, and more. Types of irritants include soaps, detergents, solvents, and so on.


When you come into contact with the irritant or allergen, you may experience a rash that is:

  • Oozing fluid
  • Causing a stinging sensation
  • Swollen
  • Bumpy (similar to blisters)
  • Red or dark purple in color
  • Itchy
  • Flakey

Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is a chronic skin condition that mainly affects the scalp. Though the exact cause is not known at this time, possible causes could be excess oil or an issue with the immune system.


You can identify if you have seborrheic dermatitis by checking for one or more of the following signs:

  • Dandruff on the scalp, beard, or eyebrows
  • Greasy skin with flakey skin on various parts of the body
  • A red or dark-colored rash
  • Itchiness

Schedule a Consultation for Treatment

Each type of dermatitis mentioned is treated differently. Correctly identifying your dermatitis can be the difference between lasting relief and enduring discomfort.

Chevy Chase Dermatology can help properly diagnose and prescribe the appropriate treatment. Chevy Chase Dermatology is an award-winning, professional cosmetic and medical skin care center serving Chevy Chase, Bethesda, MD, and Washington, DC. Schedule a consultation today at (301) 656-7546 to learn more.

Category: Allergic Contact Dermatitis, Skin Conditions

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