What is dermatitis?

Dermatitis is inflammation of the skin. It can cause itching, cracking and blistering, and makes your skin red, sore and flaky.

There are two main kinds of dermatitis:

  • irritant contact dermatitis, which is caused by substances that physically damage the skin such as wet work, dyes, shampoos, alcohol, or caustic soda; and
  • allergic contact dermatitis, which is caused when your body's immune system becomes 'sensitised' to a particular substance, like the latex in some rubber gloves. Sensitisation can suddenly occur even when you have been working with a substance for years. After you have been sensitised you will have an allergic reaction to even tiny amounts of the substance, and may also become allergic to related substances.

For more information, see our Dermatitis section.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.