Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a kind of skin inflammation that occurs when substances touching the skin cause either irritation or an allergic reaction. According to the National Institutes of Health, irritant dermatitis is the most common type. The resulting red, itchy rash is not contagious or life threatening, but it can be very uncomfortable. Culprits in everyday life include soaps, cosmetics, fragrances and jewelry. Plants like poison ivy or poison oak can also cause contact dermatitis. So can occupations that involve exposure to agitating substances. When it comes to allergic contact dermatitis, a reaction may not occur upon the first exposure. In some cases, an allergic reaction doesn't happen until the product is being used regularly. Some products trigger a reaction only with sun exposure. Sunscreens, shaving creams and some perfumes may fall into this category. According to the NIH, the most common site for contact dermatitis is on the hands. The reaction can be itchy and/or painful. If it’s an allergic response, a red, streaky or patchy rash may appear anywhere from 24 to 48 hours after exposure. In some cases, the rash may have red bumps, feel warm, ooze, or become scaly. Getting an allergy test can be an effective preventative measure. This can actually reveal known allergens and help you stay away from them in the future.

Treating Contact dermatitis

In terms of treatment, the NIH recommends washing hands immediately to remove any leftover traces of the irritant. Sometimes, nothing can be done to treat the reaction. In some cases, emollients or moisturizers are helpful in keeping the skin moist so that it can heal. Corticosteroids can also reduce inflammation. Anti-itch medications can also be used. In most cases, contact dermatitis resolves itself in two to three weeks with no further exposure to the irritant. However, frequent reactions can lead to a bacterial infection on the skin.

Latest Contact Dermatitis News