Contact dermatitis is skin inflammation that is caused by direct skin contact with an irritant or an allergen.
Types of contact Dermatitis
Here are the two types of contact dermatitis
- Irritant Dermatitis– This is the most common type of contact dermatitis, which is caused due to the contact of the skin with chemicals, solvents, soap and detergents, basically alkaline and acidic materials. The reaction can cause itching and burning sensation on the skin.
- Allergic Contact Dermatitis-This is the second most common kind of contact dermatitis, this happen when you are in contact with a material that you have become allergic or hypersensitive to. The contact dermatitis rash in this type can appear after 24-48 hours of exposure to the chemical or substance. The inflammation can be mild, the area can become red and sore, depending on how sensitive you are to the material, the body part that is affected and the type of irritant you are in contact with.
- Overtreatment dermatitis-This is a type of contact dermatitis which happens when treatment for one skin disorder leads to reaction and irritation.
Substances that cause contact dermatitis
- Poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac
- Rubber or latex
- Nickel and such types of jewelry material
- Fabrics and clothing
- Fragrances, perfumes
- Antibiotics, especially those applied to the surface of the skin (topical)
- Topical anesthetics
- Certain types of plants
- Other medications
- Other chemicals and substances
Causes of contact dermatitis
Contact dermatitis can be caused due to a reaction triggered by the substance that you are in contact with or use frequently. Initially, there may not be much of a reaction but if you use the said substance frequently like say, a detergent, wearing nickel jewelery, using a nail polish remover, the inflammation on the wrist due to the metal buckle of a watch; all this can cause contact dermatitis to the area of the body that comes in contact with such allergens.
Some products cause reaction due to contact with skin being exposed to sunlight (photosensitivity). These include sunscreens, shaving creams, sulfa ointments, some perfumes, coal tar product etc. Insecticides, pollen and ragweed can also cause contact dermatitis.
Contact Dermatitis Symptoms
- Itching in the skin part that reacts to the irritant or allergen
- Redness and inflammation of the skin
- Skin tenderness in the affected area
- Localized swelling of the skin
- Skin lesion. The appurtenance of the lesion can be in the form of pimple-like lesions, blisters, vesicles and rash.
- The skin can ooze, become crusty
- The affected are can become scaly, lichenified (thick) and raw.
Contact Dermatitis Diagnosis, tests
Patch tested is the best way to find out the allergen that is causing contact dermatitis. So, an allergy testing which is done with skin patches can find out the allergen that causes the reaction. Patch test may need the patient to visit the skin clinic r thrice; the patient may have to tell the doctor abou the types of chemicals or solvents he or she is in contact with on a regular basis.
On the first visit, few patches of potential allergens are applied to the skin. These patches are removed after 48 hours to see if a reaction has occurred. A third visit about 2 days later can help the dermatologist determine the possible chemical, irritant or allergen that causes contact dermatitis if there is a skin reaction due to one of the patches that were applied. The other tests that are applied include skin lesion culture or biopsy.
Treatment for Contact Dermatitis
It is important to moisturize the area, or wash the area with waters so that traces of the irritant is washed away. Corticosteroid skin creams or ointments are prescribed by the doctor. In severe cases, systemic corticosteroids can control contact dermatitis. Be informed that using even low strength corticosteroids can cause the skin react, so it is better to consult the doctor. When they give the medicine to be applied on the skin, the dermatologist may reduce the prescription of the corticosteroid for two weeks and then switch over to another treatment medication. Apart from corticosteroid, tarolimus and pimecrolimus can also be helpful .Anti itch creams or antipruritic, moisturizers can also combat other symptoms.
Contact dermatitis can disappear within 2 or 3 weeks, but may come back if the patient maintains contact with the allergic substance or irritant. If your occupation causes you to get in contact with the allergen or irritant, you may have to change the way you work in order to avoid any more irritation to the skin.
Contact Dermatitis Pictures