What is Causing My Skin to be Inflamed?

Do you have itchy skin? Is your skin red? Do you have dry, flaky skin? If so, you may have skin inflammation (dermatitis). Inflamed skin can be from a variety of causes. It can be due to allergens or irritants that make contact with your skin. It can also be a chronic illness causing inflamed skin for an unknown reason (psoriasis). Lastly, it can be caused by a sensitivity to allergies that is genetic and causes dry skin and itching (eczema). Inflamed skin can be painful and irritating. It can cause you to lose sleep and make you uncomfortable due to the itching and scratching cycle that occurs with it. Skin inflammation is treated differently depending on the cause. Generally, inflamed skin is not contagious.

Common Skin Inflammation Symptoms

Skin inflammation is usually red and itchy. It may also be dry and in the form of a patch.

Other noticeable symptoms include:

  • Dry skin
  • Skin redness
  • Itchy skin
  • Involvement of the eyelid in eczema
  • Hands are commonly affected
  • Blisters with weeping
  • Burning
  • Cracks in the skin
  • Swelling
  • Chronic scaling of the ears
  • Chronic dandruff

Who is at Risk for Skin Inflammation?

Many people are at risk for inflamed skin. It can affect babies, children, adults, and the elderly. You are more at risk for skin inflammation due to eczema if you have a family history of the disease, are diagnosed with asthma, or have seasonal allergies. You are much more at risk for skin inflammation due to irritants if you wash your hands often and work in such jobs as health care, food service, or childcare. Work as a hair stylist due to the chemicals and hair products can also cause skin inflammation. You are more at risk for skin inflammation such as psoriasis if you have a family history of the illness, use certain medications, have increased stress, increased infection rate, or trauma to the skin.

What Will My Doctor Ask Me?

Your doctor is going to ask you a variety of questions regarding your skin as well as questions about your occupation and your family. He/she will ask you questions such as:

  • When did the inflamed lesion appear? How long has it been present?
  • On a scale of one to ten with ten being the worst, how itchy is it?
  • What type of skin regimen do you use at home? What products do you use?
  • Did the inflammation come on suddenly or slowly over time?
  • What do you have as hobbies?
  • What home remedies have you tried and what were the results?
  • What is your occupation?
  • Have you been under any new stress at home or work?
  • Have you been exposed to any new substances at work or home such as cleaners, detergents, soaps, gloves, flowers, plants, or medications?
  • Does anyone else in your household suffer the same symptoms?
  • Do you have a family history of skin inflammation, asthma, or seasonal allergies?

How do I Treat My Inflamed Skin?

Your doctor will evaluate your inflamed skin and determine the best plan of care for you. One of the most important parts of managing inflamed skin such as dermatitis is identifying what is causing the skin irritation and trying to prevent it.



  • Use mild soap when washing hands
  • Wear gloves if working with chemicals
  • Moisturize hands several times a day

Diaper Area:

  • Change diaper frequently
  • Leave diaper area open to air when feasible
  • Do not use hot air from hair dryer for drying baby bottom
  • Do not scrub baby bottom
  • Do not use powders as the baby can inhale it into their lungs
  • Apply a barrier ointment such as zinc oxide (Desitin) to diaper area after every change


Topical steroids are the mainstay of therapy in dermatitis and psoriasis type conditions. A hydrocortisone 2.5 percent cream works well in contact and irritant dermatitis or a triamcinolone cream for eczema and psoriasis.

It is also crucial to moisturize when you are diagnosed with eczema. Such moisturizers include lotions, creams, and ointments such as:

  • Eucerin
  • Lubriderm
  • Nivea
  • Cetaphil
  • Cerave
  • Vaseline
  • Aquaphor

Another appropriate treatment in skin inflammation is the use of antihistamines. Products such as Allegra, Benadryl, Zyrtec, and Claritin can be used to prevent itching, so you are not constantly trying to scratch your skin.

When skin involvement is widespread and extensive in adults, oral steroids or a steroid shot may need to be given to get the inflammation under control.

What do I Need to Know About Skin Infections? – Patient Education

  • Try and avoid scratching your skin as it causes it more irritation and has the potential to become infected due to breaks in the skin caused by scratching
  • Do not apply topical steroids to your face or groin as the absorption is quicker and can cause complications
  • If you are diabetic, let your doctor know before they prescribe you any steroids, as steroids will cause your blood sugar to increase.
  • If you are given oral steroids or a steroid shot for one episode of inflamed skin, there are a couple of side effects of the steroid that you may not like. These include: jitteriness, increased heart rate, irritability, and hunger
  • If you have a chronic skin condition, and your doctor places you on steroids for a long time, be prepared for possible long-term side effects such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, increased chance of stomach ulcers, mood changes, thinning of the bones, increased chance of infection, and weight gain.

Emergency Warning Signs/When to Follow Up

  • Follow-up with your doctor in three to four days for severe dermatitis that required oral steroids.
  • Monitoring should be monthly with persons with eczema
  • Follow-up should be in two to three weeks for people with psoriasis if any therapy was initiated and then every two to three months

Why Choose Carefree M.D.?

Carefree M.D. is a safe, secure and reliable way to receive a medical consulation or prescription for your skin inflammation online. We connect you via webcam* or phone with a local board certified doctor.

  • One card works for your entire household
  • Unlimited 24/7 access to board certified doctors
  • No paperwork or waiting-you can use it today
  • Month-to-month service with no contracts

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