Contact dermatitis is a very insidious and multifaceted skin disease. It could be waiting for you anywhere – at work, in the country and even in your bathroom or jewelry box.
Contact dermatitis is an inflammatory skin disease that occurs as a reaction after contact with a chemical or allergenic substance. The list of substances that could cause inflammation is quite long and includes a lot of stuff we have to use daily: soap, cleaning products, latex, cosmetics, metals (like nickel or gold), alcohol, plant juice, drugs, ink, paint, glue, some fabrics. Also, contact dermatitis could be caused by unprotected extensive exposure to UV-light.
The intensity of the allergic reaction depends on the individual immune defense reactions. The acute stage can occur immediately, or several hours and even days after the contact with an allergen. The skin in the area of contact might turn red, and it may burn, itch and blister. Rashes, puffiness, and swelling could appear on the skin surface. There could be a general malaise and increase in body temperature.
Contact dermatitis is not life-threatening, but it could cause the appearance of open sores, which might serve as a gate for various infections. That’s why we can’t neglect with this skin condition.
It’s good to know that contact dermatitis could be allergic and irritant.
Irritant contact dermatitis develops fast and would be rather painful than itchy. It feels more like a burn and occurs after the contact with things and substances that take away protective oils from the surface of your skin.
Allergic contact dermatitis involves your immune system. It might take a day or more for the rash to show up. Usually, it’s also located at the place of contact.
Some treatment measures for contact dermatitis could be safely taken at home. The №1 rule for contact dermatitis treatment is to avoid touching the cause of the problem again.
At this place, many of our readers might ask the question “what if I’m not sure about the source of skin problem?”
You can perform a kind of mini investigation. You might identify the source of a problem proceeding from its localization.
In case contact dermatitis developed at the place where your accessories, jewelry, shoes, gloves, fastener or other metallic or plastic components of your clothing touch the skin, stop wearing them for few days and watch the results. If your skin feels better, it means that some components of the listed things, like fabrics, metal (usually nickel) or dye caused the unwanted reaction. You’ll have to get rid of this stuff.
In case you’ve spent time outdoors, you might have met poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac on your way. It’s good to get to know what that beautiful plants look like and to avoid them in future.
In case the reaction appears on your face or other parts of the body, like hairline or area around the eyes, you’ve probably tried new cosmetics, hair care products, fragrance, nail polish or hair dye. If not, the reaction could be caused by something containing nickel components, like eyelash curler or even smartphone.
Sometimes you might have touched something containing allergens and then rubbed your eyes. Keys, doorknob, new music instruments – all these things might contain nickel and irritate not only the skin on your hands but also most gentle areas like the skin around your eyes after the mediated contact.
To get rid of symptoms of contact dermatitis, you should wash your skin with lukewarm water using the trusted mild soap and cover your skin with moisturizing cream you had used before without issues. You could also take oral antihistamines and apply calamine lotion to reduce itchiness. Hydrocortisone cream could also be used to reduce inflammation and itchiness, but only in relatively small areas. Avoid scratching the affected area, as it will make things worse.
If the rash gets a severe form and does not clear in a few days, it is painful, it periodically occurs again, or you see that its appearance is connected with something you deal with at workplace, it’s better to see the dermatologist.
The dermatologist could offer you more accurate testing for allergens (like patch test) and more efficient symptomatic treatment. If you have an allergy, your dermatologist could provide a tailored treatment plan that will help you to avoid things that lead you to rash and to deal with it more effectively.
In case you or your kid need help in dealing with contact dermatitis, we welcome you to schedule an appointment in our convenient office to get proper treatment for your skin.