Contact Dermatitis: Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

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When was the last time you tried a new skincare product, soap, or laundry detergent? Did it irritate your skin? If so, you may have had an encounter with contact dermatitis. Contact dermatitis is a skin condition that occurs when certain chemicals you come in contact with cause a reaction. Fortunately, most reactions are mild, although they’re often uncomfortable and itchy.

It’s important to note there are three different types of contact dermatitis, including:

Contact Dermatitis Causes

Allergic Contact Dermatitis: This condition occurs when your skin develops an allergic reaction to a foreign substance. When your skin encounters new substances, it sometimes releases inflammatory chemicals that cause your skin to become irritated or itchy. Common causes of this condition include:

  • Using Latex Gloves
  • Wearing Jewelry Made from Gold or Nickel
  • Wearing Certain Perfumes, Makeup, or Skincare Products
  • Poison Ivy

Irritant Contact Dermatitis: The most common out of the three types, this condition occurs when your skin encounters toxic materials, such as the following:

  • Bleach
  • Drain Cleaners
  • Battery Acid
  • Detergents
  • Kerosene

Photo-Contact Dermatitis: Of the three, photo-contact dermatitis is the least common. It occurs when an active ingredient in a cosmetic or skincare product sits in the sun for long periods of time, resulting in irritation. 

Contact Dermatitis Symptoms

Symptoms of contact dermatitis vary depending on your sensitivity to a given substance and what type of contact dermatitis you have. For example, if you have allergic contact dermatitis, you may display some of the following symptoms:

If you have irritant contact dermatitis, your symptoms may include:

  • Blistering
  • Swelling
  • Ulcerations
  • Open Sores
  • Cracking Skin

Contact Dermatitis Diagnosis

If you think you may have contact dermatitis, visit your doctor. After discussing your symptoms with your doctor, they will examine your skin and perform any tests and biopsies they deem necessary to make a proper diagnosis. 

Contact Dermatitis Treatment 

For many people, contact dermatitis tends to clear up on its own with time. If you have one of the three conditions, try one of the following treatments to help clear it up as quickly as possible:

  • Avoid Scratching Irritated Skin
  • Keep Skin Clean by Washing with Mild Soaps
  • Refrain from Using Products That Caused the Irritation
  • Sooth Affected Areas with Vaseline and Anti-Itch Treatments, Including Calamine Lotion
  • Take Antihistamine Drugs to Reduce Itching

Contact Dermatitis Prognosis

Given the fact that contact dermatitis clears up on its own most of the time thanks to plenty of effective home remedies to try, the prognosis for those suffering from the condition is good. However, if you have a rash near your mouth or eyes, or if the irritation doesn’t clear up on its own, seek medical attention. In rare cases, home remedies may not be effective, meaning you will need more potent forms of treatment from your doctor, such as steroid creams.