Dermatitis is inflammation of the skin, typically characterized by itchiness, redness and a rash In cases of short duration, there may be small blisters, while in long-term cases the skin may become thickened. The area of skin involved can vary from small to covering the entire body. Dermatitis is often called eczema, and the difference between those terms is not standardized.

The exact cause of the condition is often unclear. Cases may involve a combination of allergy, and poor venous return. The type of dermatitis is generally determined by the person’s history and the location of the rash. For example, irritant dermatitis often occurs on the hands of those who frequently get them wet. Allergic contact dermatitis occurs upon exposure to an allergen, causing a hypersensitivity reaction in the skin.

Prevention of atopic dermatitis is typically with essential fatty acid, and may be treated with moisturizer and steroid creams. The steroid creams should generally be of mid- to high strength and used for less than two weeks at a time, as side effects can occur. Antibiotic may be required if there are signs of skin infection. Contact dermatitis is typically treated by avoiding the allergen or irritant. Antihistamines may help with sleep and decrease nighttime scratching.

Dermatitis was estimated to affect 245 million people globally in 2015, or 3.34% of the world population. Atopic dermatitis is the most common type and generally starts in childhood. In the United States, it affects about 10–30% of people. Contact dermatitis is twice as common in females as males. Allergic contact dermatitis affects about 7% of people at some point in their lives. Irritant contact dermatitis is common, especially among people with certain occupations; exact rates are unclear.