Dermatitis can be a really frustrating and uncomfortable condition, with dry, sore skin driving you mad with itchiness, but how long should you expect it to last?
The answer is, disappointingly, as long as it takes.
What that depends on can vary from person to person, but the good news is that there are things you can do to help the process on its way!
What is dermatitis?
Dermatitis refers to any patch of irritated or inflamed skin, anywhere on the body. It’s not so much a condition in its own right, as a symptom of your body’s immune system reacting to something, and that reaction affecting the skin.
So dermatitis can be triggered by dust mites, pollen, stress, cold weather, central heating or household detergents.
People affected are often those with impaired skin barriers, a trait that is usually (though not always) inherited. People can develop dermatitis at any age, but some kinds of dermatitis are more common in childhood, adulthood or old age.
What helps calm dermatitis?
Calming down a patch of dermatitis involves approaching the problem on several fronts! The more you can manage, the more likely your dermatitis will resolve sooner rather than later.
Identifying and avoiding what caused the dermatitis
This might take some detective work: was it your new perfume? Your laundry detergent? Shampoo? The cushions on your sofa? Your cat? A necklace? Pollen? Stress?
You might be able to narrow the possibilities according to where the dermatitis is: hands might point to soap or hand sanitiser, for example.
And some triggers are more avoidable than others, of course.
Calming the itch
The problem with clearing up dermatitis is that itchy skin causes the sufferer to scratch. The scratching stimulates the nerves to trigger more itchiness, as well as damages the skin, which means it can lose moisture and let in allergens. This results in a cycle of itching and scratching which can make dermatitis last longer, and is very hard to break.
Ways of calming the dermatitis itch include:
- Cold compresses
- Distraction techniques
- Rubbing or patting rather than scratching
- Wrapping the area
- Using a hand held fan
- Applying natural anti-inflammatories such as calendula, chickweed, chamomile
Using emollients for dermatitis
Emollients are the cornerstone of dermatitis management: they lock in vital moisture; protect from allergens and irritants; soften rough, dry skin, and (if natural) nourish the skin with nutrients needed to support healing.
Find an emollient that is free from the ingredients that can irritate your skin further, such as perfumes, preservatives, or some essential oils.
If you can find a cream or salve that works for your own unique skin, you can often stop a dermatitis flare in its tracks!
So how Long Does It Take For Dermatitis To Clear Up?
The time it takes to calm a dermatitis flare depends on so many factors, but you can actively help yourself hurry the process along! Sometimes a flare can be caught early and will calm down within a day; in other cases, especially if whatever is causing the dermatitis is still present (stress, dust, cold weather, hand sanitiser etc.), it can ebb and flow for months. Using our suggested strategies may not completely get rid of persistent dermatitis if the skin is still being triggered, but it should help make it more comfortable.
Keep these four steps in mind to keep dermatitis under control.
- Avoid your own unique triggers
- Break the itch-scratch cycle
- Keep your skin hydrated and protected
- Feed your skin with nutrients
Recommended products for skin prone to dermatitis:
Balmonds Skin Salvation
with hemp and beeswax
Balmonds Daily Moisturising Cream
with shea butter and calendula
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.