Autoimmune dermatitis is skin irritation associated with immune dysfunction. In people with this condition, the skin develops rashes, blisters, papules, patches of dryness, and other issues because the immune system mistakenly identifies something in the skin as harmful and starts attacking it. There are several different forms, and patients with this condition usually need to be carefully evaluated to find out why their skin is reacting and develop an appropriate treatment plan for managing the skin irritation. Usually, an immune specialist is involved in diagnosis and treatment.
This condition can onset at any age and may be associated with disease and life events, or not, depending on the patient. People with autoimmune conditions sometimes develop dermatitis in association with their underlying conditions. Autoimmune dermatitis can be a sign that a condition is growing worse or not responding to treatment. It can start anywhere on the body and may spread over time. Patients often complain of itching and pain around the site of an outbreak. The inflammation can make the skin feel hot and dry as well.
In other cases, autoimmune dermatitis shows up independently, with no previous history of autoimmune problems. People may develop it in response to allergies, with the body reacting to allergens found in and around the skin, or on its own. Additionally, some women experience a rare version known as autoimmune progesterone dermatitis, where skin flareups occur at various phases of the menstrual cycle in response to changing hormone levels in the body.
Immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory drugs can be taken to treat autoimmune dermatitis. During an outbreak, soothing creams can be applied to keep the skin hydrated and as healthy as possible. Medications can help reduce the intensity of outbreaks, as well as making them less common. Taking these drugs in the long term may expose people to other risks like slowed healing time and an increased risk of infection because the body cannot respond as rapidly to harmful organisms.
Untreated autoimmune dermatitis can cause severe problems for the patient. Over time, the skin may undergo permanent changes, thickening and roughening in response to the sustained inflammation. In addition, it can crack and peel, creating an open sore. This sore may allow infectious organisms to enter the body and can cause an infection. Areas of outbreaks need to be kept clean and dry, and it is important to address outbreaks of dermatitis when they occur, to prevent complications associated with untreated skin irritation.