Dermatitis (from Greek δέρμα derma “skin” and -ῖτις -itis “inflammation”) or eczema ( ekzema “eruption”) is inflammation of the skin. It is characterized by itchy, erythematous, vesicular, weeping, and crusting patches. The term eczema is also commonly used to describe atopic dermatitis or atopic eczema. In some languages, dermatitis and eczema are synonyms, while in other languages dermatitis implies an acute condition and eczema a chronic one. The cause of dermatitis is unclear. One possibility is that the condition is caused by a dysfunctional interplay between the immune system and skin. The term eczema is broadly applied to a range of persistent skin conditions. These include dryness and recurring skin rashes that are characterized by one or more of these symptoms: redness, skin swelling, itching and dryness, crusting, flaking, blistering, cracking, oozing, or bleeding. Areas of temporary skin discoloration may appear and are sometimes due to healed injuries. Scratching open a healing lesion may result in scarring and may enlarge the rash. Treatment is typically with moisturizers and steroid creams. If these are not effective, creams based on calcineurin inhibitors may be used. The disease was estimated as of 2010 to affect 230 million people globally (3.5% of the population). While dermatitis is not life-threatening, a number of other illnesses have been linked to the condition, including osteoporosis, depression, and heart disease.
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