What is dermatitis?

Dermatitis involves inflammation of the skin. The condition is used to describe various skin rashes that are triggered by allergies, infections and irritants. The rashes range from mild to severe and can trigger the following, depending on the cause:

  • Reddening and itchiness
  • Sore ulcers
  • Thickening and/or swelling
  • Crusting
  • Marking
  • Scaling
  • Creasing
    Dermatitis

    Contact dermatitis manifests once skin comes in contact with a substance that triggers a delayed allergic response or once there is damage on the surface of the skin.

  • Blisters

Close look on contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis manifests once skin comes in contact with a substance that triggers a delayed allergic response or once there is damage on the surface of the skin.

The skin can become highly sensitive to a particular substance after several exposures or just one exposure. Many end up with a reaction to poison ivy after their first encounter. The usual sources of allergic contact dermatitis include dyes, cosmetics, rubber derivatives, nickel, adhesives and other metals.

The substances that can irritate the skin include soaps, detergents, waxes, cleaners and chemicals. These substances wear down the oily protective coating on the surface of the skin and results to irritant contact dermatitis.

Symptoms of contact dermatitis

Allergic contact dermatitis

  • Reddening of the skin
  • Intense itchiness
  • Oozing blisters
  • Swelling in the face, eyes and genital area

Irritant contact dermatitis

  • Dry, cracked skin
  • Mild swelling
  • Stiff, tight skin
  • Blisters
  • Sore ulcers

Always bear in mind that the symptoms tend to vary depending on the exact cause of dermatitis.

Do I have contact dermatitis?

If the individual has a rash that does not vanish, it is best to consult a doctor. Once the doctor suspects that the individual has allergic contact dermatitis, a patch test might be performed. During this test, the doctor applies a sample of the suspected substance on the skin to check if a rash develops. As for irritant contact dermatitis, there are not tests to diagnose the condition. Always bear in mind that with either type, you can avoid suspected substances to check if the rash vanishes.

Management

The treatment is based on the exact cause of dermatitis. The commonly used treatment options include the following:

  • Antihistamines to reduce the itchiness
  • Cortisone-type creams
  • Oatmeal baths to relieve the itchiness
  • Dry skin care

Prevention

Allergic contact dermatitis

  • Avoid contact with substances that trigger the formation of skin rashes
  • Wash or cleanse any area that came in contact with the allergic substances
  • Learn to recognize poison ivy and poison oak plants

Irritant contact dermatitis

  • Only use mild soaps
  • Wear cotton gloves when engaging in any wet work. You can also utilize petroleum jelly as a protectant on the skin. Reapply the petroleum jelly 2-3 times throughout the day and after washing the hands.
  • Avoid exposure with substances that can irritate the skin
  • Apply hand lotions and creams frequently.

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