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Condition - Dermatitis

By Jenny Bodenham BA (Hons) DipION MBANT

LFO, Dermatitis refers to inflammation of the upper layers of the skin and is a broad term covering a variety of conditions commonly caused by a reaction to allergens. There are various different categories of dermatitis depending on the type of allergen involved. Eczema is a type of dermatitis also called Dermatitis eczema and Eczematous dermatitis.  Redness, itching, thickened skin and skin lesions are common to all types of dermatitis. Commonly, the irritant or allergen causing the condition comes into direct contact with the skin, but in some cases, it may be swallowed. An acute attack of dermatitis may only last a few hours and be a brief reaction to an irritant or allergen, while chronic dermatitis continues over a period of time. Common types of dermatitis include: 

Contact or allergic dermatitis – involving an irritant or allergen coming into contact with the skin, which initiates the production of inflammatory chemicals, producing a characteristic rash. Common irritants include nail polish, hair dyes, deodorants, perfumes, washing powders, rubber, latex, medicated skin creams and nickel in jewellery. 

Atopic dermatitis – this is the most common type of eczema and is caused by an abnormal response of the body’s immune system. Atopic refers to a hereditary disposition to develop allergic conditions (hay fever, asthma, eczema). It is often a chronic condition that is characterised by extremely itchy and inflamed skin, with redness, swelling, cracking, weeping, crusting and scaling. Atopic dermatitis often appears in babies or toddlers, particularly in the creases of the body, e.g., behind the knees and in the elbows, neck and face. Allergy to cow’s milk may be a factor. 

Seborrheic dermatitis – this is an inflammatory skin disorder particularly affecting the sebum-gland rich areas of the skin. It can affect the scalp, face and trunk, causing itchy, flaky, scaly red skin. It is believed to be a reaction to the proliferation of a normal skin inhabitant – a yeast called malassezia. In severe cases, this may lead to hair loss. 

Other forms of dermatitis include localised scratch dermatitis, perioral dermatitis, stasis dermatitis and generalised exfoliative dermatitis. 

Useful nutrients  

B vitamins – important for immune function and healing

Vitamin C with bioflavonoids – supports healthy skin repair

Zinc – enhances immune function and aids healing

Iron or folic acid – if blood tests show that levels are low

Omega 3 fats – found in flax seed oil or fish oil to support healthy cells and the promotion of anti-inflammatory pathways

Starflower oil – contains high levels of GLA, which is often deficient in dermatitis sufferers.

Chronic inflammation is associated with increased free-radical damage.Higher antioxidant intake, including Vitamin E,may be associated with reduced risk of atopic dermatitis. 

Nutritional advice 

  • Investigate possible food allergy or intolerance. Keep a food diary to monitor possible food intolerances or use a test kit to identify IgG antibodies produced as a reaction to foods. Eliminate food allergens.
  • Eat a healthy diet containing plenty of fresh vegetables, a little fruit, wholegrains, such as oats, brown rice and quinoa, and healthy protein including fish (especially oily fish), eggs and a little chicken/lean meat (organic if possible).
  • Drink at least one and a half litres of water/herb teas a day.


  • Sugar and refined foods, such as cakes, biscuits, white bread, white pasta and white rice
  • Salty and spicy foods
  • High-fat foods, including high-fat and processed meats
  • Acidic foods, such as tomato and pineapple
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Tea, coffee and soft sugary drinks
  • Smoking

Lifestyle advice

Stress can often exacerbate dermatitis – so reduce stress by taking regular exercise and/or practising relaxation techniques, such as meditation or yoga.

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