Contact dermatitis is a red, itchy rash caused by direct contact with a substance or an allergic reaction to it. The rash isn’t contagious or life-threatening, but it can be very uncomfortable.
Many substances can cause such reactions, including soaps, cosmetics, fragrances, jewelry and plants.
To treat contact dermatitis successfully, you need to identify and avoid the cause of your reaction. If you can avoid the offending substance, the rash usually clears up in two to four weeks. You can try soothing your skin with cool, wet compresses, anti-itch creams and other self-care steps.
In this video, we want to introduce you some useful information about contact dermatitis causes, symptoms, types, and treatment.
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Causes of contact dermatitis
Contact dermatitis is caused by a substance you’re exposed to that irritates your skin or triggers an allergic reaction.
The substance could be one of thousands of known allergens and irritants. Some of these substances may cause both irritant contact dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis.
Types of contact dermatitis
The two main types of contact dermatitis are:
Allergic contact dermatitis: Your body has an allergic reaction to a substance (allergen) that it doesn’t like. Common allergens include jewelry metals (like nickel), cosmetic products, fragrances and preservatives. It can take several days after exposure for an itchy, red rash to develop.
Irritant contact dermatitis: This painful rash tends to come on quickly in response to an irritating substance. Common irritants include detergents, soap, cleaners and acid.
Symptoms of contact dermatitis
Contact dermatitis causes the skin to become itchy, blistered, dry and cracked.
Lighter skin can become red, and darker skin can become dark brown, purple or grey.
This reaction usually occurs within a few hours or days of exposure to an irritant or allergen.
Symptoms can affect any part of the body but most commonly the hands and face.
Treatment of contact dermatitis
If you can successfully avoid the irritants or allergens that trigger your symptoms, your skin will eventually clear up.
However, as this is not always possible, you may also be advised to use:
- emollients. moisturisers applied to the skin to stop it becoming dry
- topical corticosteroids. steroid ointments and creams applied to the skin to relieve severe symptoms
If you have a severe episode of contact dermatitis and it covers a large area of your skin, a doctor may prescribe oral corticosteroids, but this is rare.
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