What is contact dermatitis?
Contact dermatitis happens when something that our skin touches causes a rash – either it irritates the skin (irritant contact dermatitis) or causes an allergic reaction (allergic contact dermatitis). Some rashes happen immediately and some take time to appear.
What are the symptoms of contact dermatitis?
Symptoms include intense itching, red rash, burning/stinging sensation, hives, and in some cases even fluid-filled blisters. This skin condition often affects a person’s quality of life as the rash can make many daily activities painful and uncomfortable.
What causes allergic contact dermatitis?
The offenders of allergic contact dermatitis can include preservatives or other chemicals in products we use everyday. The development of allergy occurs over time and with repeated exposure. Some classic cases of contact allergy include nickel allergy, latex allergy and poison ivy dermatitis. Products that were previously well tolerated by a patient may cause allergic contact dermatitis due to either a slight change in formulation. That is why a thorough history of all products is key, including those that are prescription, over the counter, and homeopathic in nature.
What causes irritant contact dermatitis?
Factors include repeated exposure to water or frequent hand washing, harsh soaps and chemicals, etc. Other potential irritants include dry air and major changes in temperature. Exposures are frequently occupational, and some of the high-risk jobs include cleaning (janitors), health care workers, food preparation (chefs or others who work with food), and hairdressers/beauticians.
How can contact dermatitis be treated?
With hundreds of triggers/products (hair dyes, nickel, chemicals, cosmetics, poison ivy, etc.) that can cause contact dermatitis, successfully diagnosing and treating this skin condition can be challenging. Thus, it’s important to see a Board-Certified Dermatologist as they frequently see and treat this condition. . Some effective prescription medications include topical steroids, topical immunomodulators, antihistamines, oral steroids and rarely antibiotics.