Contact dermatitis

When the skin comes into contact with a substance that causes an inflamed reaction of the skin, it is referred to as having contact dermatitis. There are several substances that can cause this sort of allergic reaction in a person. Not everyone will respond the same to the same substances. Some people are more prone to having contact dermatitis than others.

Some of the substances that may cause an allergic reaction in some people are soaps, detergents, cosmetics, household cleaning products, citrus fruits, topical ointments or creams, latex, nickel jewelry, tanning agents in leather, hair coloring products, fragrances in perfumes, shampoos and lotions, and weeds such as poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac.

If a person comes into contact with one of these substances and has an allergic skin reaction they are most likely to develop an itchy, red rash on the body. Most times the rash is localized to the area that came in contact with the substance. Although the rash is uncomfortable, it is not contagious to others or life threatening.

Once it has been determined that the rash has been caused by contact dermatitis, the next step is trying to identify what caused the allergic reaction. It is important to re-trace steps to determine what may have come into contact with the skin. Strangely enough, the substance that has caused the reaction is typically something that a person has come into contact with previously but did not show any reaction to the first time. This can make identifying the substance a little trickier. The only way to avoid having a reaction again is to figure out what is causing the rash.

If you have an allergic reaction and the rash is bothersome due to severe itching, there are medications that you can use to help. Anti-itch creams such as hydrocortisone and calamine lotions may offer relief. Also using wet compresses on the skin may lessen the redness and inflammation. For those who have an extreme case of contact dermatitis, a trip to the doctor may be necessary. Allergic reactions that are all over the body or causing a lot of discomfort may require the use of antihistamine medications or corticosteroid medications.

For people that are not able to identify the cause of their allergic reaction or that have recurrent reactions, a patch test may be performed by a doctor to help determine the source of the allergen. A patch test consists of taking small amounts of allergens that can cause a potential reaction and applying them to small patches that are placed directly onto the skin. The tests will either result in a rash or no reaction at all. With this test, the rash is typically only found directly under the patch that was placed onto the skin. This test is beneficial in helping people figure out what substances they need to stay away from. Often these tests reveal more than one allergen causing the reactions.

There are some things that you can do at home to help prevent allergic reactions. When working in the yard wear gloves to protect your skin from weeds. Also wear gloves when cleaning with chemical based products around the home. Try using detergents, soaps, shampoos, and lotions that are fragrance free and avoid wearing leather or nickel jewelry. If you do come into contact with something that you know you are allergic to, wash your skin with soap and water immediately to remove the allergen from the skin. If a rash does break out you can try soaking in a warm bath with baking soda or dry oatmeal added to the water to help soothe irritated and itchy skin.

Last updated on Sep 10th, 2009 and filed under Skin Care. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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