Contact Dermatitis is an adverse reaction to specific substances, which causes rashes on the skin.
The human skin is very susceptible, and we run the risk of developing allergic reactions every day.
There are so many chemicals and substances present in our environment that can affect the skin and cause all sorts of infections and diseases. One of these conditions is Contact Dermatitis.
As the name suggests, for this skin rash to manifest, the skin has to come into contact with the harmful chemicals present in our surroundings, and this is what develops an allergic reaction.
It’s not that a particular chemical is more harmful than other. Human beings are a very diverse species. Every human is different from the other and reacts to stimuli differently.
Therefore it is necessary that a person keep checks on what he/she is allergic to and make sure that they take the required preventive measures.
It is a condition where the skin is red, sore or inflamed after direct contact with a substance.
Contact Dermatitis Symptoms
Allergic reactions are our body’s way of letting us know whether some substance is harmful to us or not.
Diseases are often diagnosed by the symptoms that follow as a result of the person becoming affected.
The symptoms of contact dermatitis are relatively straightforward and easy to diagnose.
The affected part of the skin itches and patients may experience some inflammation. The skin might become reddened.
In some cases, patients have complained about painful swellings and skin lesions. That can prove to be quite a traumatic experience for the patients. Therefore, dermatologists advise strong caution.
Although this may affect any part of the body, clinical research has revealed that the areas of the human body that are most susceptible to this kind of dermatitis are the hands, feet and the pubic region.
Before we proceed further, we need to understand a medical term that is known as ‘clinical reaction.’
The meaning of the term lies in the fact that it is not necessary that our body reacts to the allergic substance as soon as it comes in contact with it.
There is a 24 – 48 hours window during which we can expect the symptoms to appear. That same principle applies to Contact Dermatitis.
Another critical point that the patients and their caretakers must understand is that Contact Dermatitis is not a contagious disease.
That means it is highly unlikely that an affected person can transfer this disease to another. However, your body parts do run the risk of getting affected.
So in case, there is an allergy in some part of the body, for example, the feet. Medical experts advise refraining from touching them with other unaffected parts of your body like your hands.
When you go to a doctor, the first thing you can expect is that he/she will carry out several tests to locate the exact stimulus that induces the reaction.
Once the substance gets identified the doctor can then begin the treatment process. There are numerous aspects that one may pursue.
Traditional medications like ointments and oral medicines are readily available in the market and healthcare providers can prescribe them if needed.
Other unconventional ways like bath salts and natural herbs are also some options that you might seek.
The doctor may also advise you to use a preventive measure like using rubber gloves and boots when working with materials that you are more likely to be allergic to.
Tests and Exams
Your health care provider will make a diagnosis based on the appearance of the skin and asking questions about the substances with which you may have had contact.
Skin allergy tests (called patch tests) can determine which allergen is causing the reaction.
Medical experts use the patch test for some people who suffer from repetitive and chronic contact dermatitis.
That requires three visits, and a healthcare provider with the skill and knowledge to interpret the results correctly must perform the test.
At the first visit, doctors apply small patches of possible allergens to the skin. These patches are removed 48 hours later to see if a reaction has occurred.
A third visit approximately two days later is done to look for any late reactions. If you have already tried a product on a small area of your skin and noticed a response, it is advisable to take the product to the consultation.
Other tests may be used to rule out other possible causes, for example, a skin lesion biopsy or a skin lesion culture.
Contact Dermatitis Treatment
The doctor will recommend treatment based on what is causing the problem. In some cases, the best treatment is to do nothing in the area.
Treatment often includes washing the area with plenty of water to remove any trace of irritant that is still on the skin. You should avoid future exposures to the substance.
Emollients or moisturizers help to keep the skin moist and also to repair the skin on its own. They prevent the flesh from becoming inflamed again and are a vital part of the prevention and treatment of contact dermatitis.
Topical corticosteroids are medicines to treat eczema.
Topic means that it gets applied to the skin. You will be using a cream or ointment (ointment). Topical corticosteroids may also be called topical steroids or topical cortisones.
DO NOT use more medicine or use it more often than your doctor advises.
Your provider may also prescribe other creams or ointments such as tacrolimus or pimecrolimus for use on the skin.
In severe cases, patients might need corticosteroids. Your healthcare provider will start giving you a high dose, which he will gradually reduce for about 12 days.
Wet compresses and softening, antipruritic) lotions may be recommended to reduce other symptoms.
Contact dermatitis disappears without complications after 2 or 3 weeks in most cases.
However, it may reappear if medical experts don’t identify the substance that caused so you can avoid it. A change of work habits may be necessary if an on-the-job exposure causes the disorder.
In some cases, the allergen causing the reaction never gets identified.