Allergic Contact dermatitis is skin inflammation that occurs because the skin has been exposed to a substance that irritates it or causes an allergic reaction. Allergic contact dermatitis is an immune reaction that occurs only in people who are naturally oversensitive to certain chemicals. Symptoms usually occur anywhere from one to two days after the first exposure to the allergen. This skin disease occurs less frequently than irritant contact dermatitis, but it is often difficult to tell the difference between the two as a similar rash appears in both.
Contact dermatitis is a localized reaction that includes redness, itching, and burning where the skin has come into contact with an allergen (an allergy-causing substance to which an individual is sensitized) or with a general irritant such as an acid, a cleaning agent, or other chemical. Other examples of contact eczema include reactions to laundry detergents, nickel (present in jewelry), cosmetics, fabrics, clothing, and perfume. Due to the vast number of substances with which individuals have contact, it can be difficult to determine the trigger for contact dermatitis.
Many substances can cause this reaction. The most common culprits are epoxy resins, latex gloves, the 200 plus chemicals used to make latex, laundry detergents, fabric softeners, perfumed soaps, perfumes, colognes, makeup, smoke, irritant plants (i.e., poison ivy, poison sumac, poison oak), dyes and nickel. Nickel may be used in bra stays, hairpins, eyelash curlers, eyeglass frames, necklace clasps, zippers, garter clasps, thimbles, watchbands, insecticides, fungicides, and more.
Symptoms of contact dermatitis:
Non seasonal itching, especially in areas where there isn’t much fur. Typical areas include the chin, ears, toes, underbelly & anus.
Lesions of any type: redness, rash, papules (pimple-like), vesicles, and blisters
Skin redness or inflammation
Self-Care at Home
Avoid touching the trigger.
Washing with soap and cool water can remove or inactivate most of the offending substance, if it is done immediately after exposure.
If blistering develops, cold moist compresses applied for 30 minutes 3 times a day are helpful.
Emollients are moisturisers which soothe, smooth and add water to (hydrate) the skin. They are the most common treatment and should be used every day even if you do not have eczema symptoms. Examples include aqueous cream and E45 cream. You can apply emollients directly to your skin as lotions, creams or ointments. A good time to apply them is just after a bath, while your skin is still slightly moist. Oils or washes are also available, which you can use in the shower or add to a bath.
Contact dermatitis can be prevented by avoiding contact with the causative substance. If contact does occur, the material should be washed off immediately with soap and water. If circumstances risk ongoing exposure, gloves and protective clothing may be helpful. Barrier creams are also available that can block certain substances, such as poison ivy and epoxy resins, from contacting the skin. Desensitization with injections or tablets of the causative substance is not effective in preventing contact dermatitis.
Topical corticosteroid medications may reduce inflammation. Carefully adhere to instructions when using topical steroids because overuse of these medications, even low-strength over-the-counter topical steroids, may cause a troublesome skin condition. In severe cases, systemic corticosteroids may be needed to reduce inflammation. These are usually tapered gradually over about 12 days to prevent recurrence of the rash.