Eczema. Dermatitis. In the broadest sense, dermatitis—inflammation of the dermis and epidermis—is a component of many skin diseases. But when we dermatologists make the diagnosis of eczematous dermatitis, we imply a limited and specific group of conditions wherein the inflammatory process is primary and the signs and symptoms are typical. Erythema, scaling, and usually pruritus occur in well-recognized patterns depending on the type of dermatitis. Usually we can diagnose dermatitis visually, excluding other easily recognized disorders. Sometimes we need the aid of the microscope for biopsy or potassium hydroxide evaluation. Atypical psoriasis and other papulosquamous disorders, dermatophyte infection, cutaneous T-cell lymphoma—the list goes on and on of dermatoses that could present as eczematous dermatitis. But once we make the diagnosis, then the real work begins.
Fowler JF. Addition of Nonspecific Endogenous Eczema to the Nomenclature of Dermatitis. Arch Dermatol. 2008;144(2):249-250. doi:10.1001/archdermatol.2007.29