Irritant Contact Dermatitis

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What is Contact Dermatitis?

Contact dermatitis, also known as allergic contact dermatitis, is an allergic reaction that occurs when your skin comes into contact with a particular substance, known as an allergen. The reaction occurs within several hours of contact and goes away within a few days.

Causes of Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis can be caused by either an allergen or an irritant. When it is caused by an irritant it is less itchy and more painful. Allergic contact dermatitis is more inflamed and itchy. Below are the most common types in each category.

  • Pollen
  • Dust
  • Pet Dander
  • Clothing Fibers
  • Nickel
  • Gold
  • Chromium
  • Antibiotics
  • Topics steroids
  • Topical anesthetics
  • Symptoms of Contact Dermatitis

    Contact dermatitis takes the form of a rash with redness and inflammation. Welts may form as well. This rash persists for days or until the allergen or irritant is removed and the wound can take up to several weeks to heal. Symptoms of allergic dermatitis occur at the site of contact and take the form of a rash with:

  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Bumps
  • Peeling
  • Allergic Contact Dermatitis

    Allergic contact dermatitis is most often caused by contact with the coating on poison oak, poison ivy, and poison sumac. Nickel, gold, and chromium can also trigger allergic contact dermatitis.

    Irritant Contact Dermatitis

    Irritant contact dermatitis is caused by common chemicals like solvents, latex, kerosene; surfactants in topical medications such as creams; and alkaline solutions like drain cleaners and strong soaps with lye residues.

  • Causes: Solvents, Latex, Kerosene, Surfactants in creams and lotions, Alkaline solutions in cleaners, Lye residues in soap.

  • Symptoms: Irritant contact dermatitis symptoms differ a little from allergic contact dermatitis. There tends to be less inflammation and itching, and more pain. Peeling and flaking of the skin may also be present.

  • Treatment: Wash the area with cold water and a gentle soap in order to flush away the irritant. If the irritant is an alkaline solution such as a cleaner or soap residue, you may rinse it with vinegar or lemon/lime juice to neutralize the reaction.
  • Treatment of Contact Dermatitis

    Wash the area with cold water and soap in order to remove the substance that caused the reaction. If the substance in contact was a base, lemon juice or vinegar can be used to counteract the reaction.

    Taking an antihistamine or applying an anti-inflammatory cream, like Benadryl can be taken to alleviate the symptoms and hydrocortisone cream may be applied to the area if the area is not widespread throughout a large part of your body. Contact dermatitis can be cured as long as you identify the substance that caused the reaction and try to avoid it from then on.

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