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Contact Dermatitis - An Overview

Contact dermatitis is an itchy rash that occurs when skin comes in contact with irritable substances. It leads to a skin allergy as the protective skin layer gets damaged. Though not contagious, this rash can be irritating.

Causes of Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is caused by certain allergens and irritants. When the skin comes in contact with these allergens it causes allergic reaction and irritation.

The three types of contact dermatitis include: allergic contact dermatitis, irritant contact dermatitis and photo contact dermatitis.

Allergic contact dermatitis

It occurs when the skin comes in contact with allergens, causing allergic reactions. Causes of allergic contact dermatitis are poison oak, mango, latex gloves, jewelry, perfumes or skin care products.

Irritant contact dermatitis

It occurs when the protective layer of the skin gets damaged. It is the most common type of dermatitis. Causes of irritant contact dermatitis include wool dust or saw dust, soaps, deodorants, bleach, solvents and rubbing of alcohol.

Photo contact dermatitis

It occurs when the irritants get activated due to the exposure of sunlight.

Symptoms of Contact Dermatitis

The symptoms of contact dermatitis generally occur in exposed parts of skin such as wrist, calf, etc. Contact dermatitis symptoms include:

  • Itchy rashes
  • Scaly and flaky skin in chronic conditions
  • Tenderness and swelling
  • Reddishness and burning sensation
  • Blisters in severe cases
  • Ulcerations
  • Sensitivity towards the sun

Diagnosis of Contact Dermatitis

The doctor may diagnose contact dermatitis by identifying the cause through a physical examination and evaluating the medical history. The doctor may also recommend a patch test in case of severe allergy. It helps in determining the intensity of skin allergy as well as the reaction to it.

Treatment of Contact Dermatitis

The treatment of contact dermatitis includes application of steroid creams, medication for skin repair, oral medications and avoiding allergens and irritants.

Steroid creams: The doctor may recommend steroid creams.

Medication for skin repair: The doctor may also suggest some medications for skin repair for long term treatment.

Oral medications: In severe cases, oral medications such as corticosteroids are also prescribed to reduce inflammation.

Avoiding allergens and irritants: The doctor may ask to avoid certain products that cause allergy.

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