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Dermatitis is usually diagnosed based on clinical features alone, without biopsy.
The pathologist should exclude vesiculo-bullous lesions caused by dermatophytes, which may be clinically indistinguishable from dyshidrotic Dermatitis. Dyshidrotic dermatitis may be clinically indistinguishable from dermatophytosis or allergic contact dermatitis limited to acral skin. Patients with tinea pedis may develop dyshidrotic dermatitis on the hands or a generalized eczematous dermatitisas a form of hypersensitivity reaction (Id reaction or dermatophytid) to the localized dermatophytosis. The reaction may occur during initiation of systemic antifungal therapy for tinea pedis or onychomycosis.
Dermatitis is a general term for superficial inflammation of the skin and can be further classified according to etiology and clinical features. Common types include atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, nummular dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, and hand or dyshidrotic dermatitis.
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Contact dermatitis is responsible for the majority of new onset dermatitis in travelers.
Contact dermatitis is further divided into irritant and allergic etiologies. Irritant contact dermatitis occurs on contact with an agent capable of causing injury and inflammation in most, if not all, people. Allergic contact dermatitisoccurs in sensitized individuals (e.g., poison ivy or oak).
The cause is unknown and there is no permanent cure. However, it can usually be controlled with appropriate advice and treatment. It generally improves with time. Most children grow out of it but it can recur, particularly if the skin is exposed to irritants later in life.
The words ‘dermatitis’ and ‘eczema’ are interchangeable and mean the same thing. Contact dermatitis, therefore, is the same thing as contact eczema. For simplicity we will stick to the word ‘dermatitis’ in this leaflet. Dermatitis means an inflammation of the skin. The term ‘contact dermatitis’ is used when this inflammation is caused by contact with something in the environment.