What is Dermatitis?
Dermatitis refers to an inflammation of the skin, both externaJ and internal. It is characterised by redness, swelling, heat and pain or itching. Any part of the body
may be affected by this disease. The exposed areas such as the eyelids, forearms, face and neck are more likely to be involved.
Substances which produce inflammation of the epidermis or dermatitis by mechanieal or chemical disruption of the horny layer are called irritants. Degreasing agents like soaps, if used too frequently over a short time, will cause dryness, redness, fissuring and irritation of the skin in almost everyone.
Causes of Dermatitis
A number of health conditions, allergies, genetic factors, physical and mental stress, and irritants can cause dermatitis
Symptom of Dermatitis
The first symptom of dermatitis is erythema or redness. This is usually followed by swelling ofthe skin due to oedema (excessive fluid retention). Vesicles may appear thereafter. In case of their rupture, their bases exude serum. This condition is known as weeping
dermatitis. Later, the serum dries up to form crusts. In some people the disease seems to come and go without making any great change in the skin itself.
Chemical substances usually give rise to dermatitis.They may reach the skin from outside or from inside through the bloodstream. About 100 different plants are known to be capab Ie of causing dermatitis in susceptible persons. The onset is usually acute and begins an hour or two after contact. Dermatitis may be caused by external contact with mineral irritants. This includes most cases of industrial dermatitis which arise on the hands or forearms which actually come in contact with the irritant.
Certain drugs applied externally such as atropine, belladona, carbolic acid, iodine, mercury, penicillin, sulphonamides, sulphurs, tars and turpentine sometimes cause dermatitis. Other substances causing this disease include hair dyes, bleaches, skin tonics, nailpolish, perfume, wool, silk, nylon, floor-wax and various detergents. Other causes of this disease are indiscretion in diet, deficiency of vitamin A and pantothenic acid, and nervous and emotional strains.
Types Of Dermatitis
- Irritant contact
Treatment of Dermatitis
- The patient should commence the treatment by adopting an all-fruit diet for at least a week, as in the case of acne. After an exclusive fruit diet the patient may adopt a restricted diet for 10 days. In this regimen, breakfast may consist of orange or orange juice or grapefruit. Raw salad, consisting of vegetables in season, with raisins, figs, or dates may be taken for lunch. Dinner may consist of steamed vegetables such as spinach, cabbage, carrots, turnips, cauliflower along with a few nuts or fresh fruit. Milk puddings and desserts such as jellies, jam and pastries, an condiments, spices, white sugar and white flour and products made from them, tea, coffee, and other stimulating drinks should be avoided.
- After the restricted diet, the patient should gradually embark upon a well-balanced diet, consisting pf seeds, nuts and grains, vegetables and fruits. The emphasis should be on fresh fruits and raw vegetables. In case of a severe condition, the patient should undertake a fast having only fruit or vegetable juices for three to five days. This may be followed by a restricted diet for 10 to 15 days. Further fasts and a period of restricted diet at intervals may be adopted after the resumption of a normal diet.
- The warm water enema should be used daily to cleanse the bowels during the first week of the treatment and thereafter as necessary. Epsom salt baths may be taken two or three times a week. The affected areas may also be bathed twice dail y in hot water with Epsom salts. About 100 grams of Epsom salts should be added to a bowl of hot water for this purpose. A little olive oil should be applied after. the Epsom salt bath.
- The patient should avoid white sugar, refined carbohydrates, tea, coffee,;and other denatured foods, and should make liberal use of fruit and vegetable juices. The combined juice of the apple, carrot, and celery is especially beneficial in the treatment of dermatitis. About 175 ml. each of these juices should be mixed to prepare 525 ml. of combined juice.
- In case of trouble due to external causes, the most effective treatment consists of applying a mixture of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) and olive oil. The alkaline sodium neutralises the poisonous acids formed in the sores and the oil keeps the skin in a softened condition.
The patient should undertake moderate physical exercise, preferably simple yoga asanas after the fast is completed and the restricted diet started. Exercise is one of the most valuable means for purifying the blood and for preventing toxaemia. The patient should also have adequate physical and mental rest and fresh air. He should avoid exposure to cold and adopt regular hours of eating and sleeping.