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Adeel Arshad

Authored on 24 January 2024 by Adeel Arshad,

Reviewed 24 January 2024 by Dr Ruch Karunadasa.

What is Contact Dermatitis?

Contact Dermatitis is a skin condition that results in the itching and inflammation of the skin. It is a rash that might stem from close contact with an irritating substance or may occur due to an allergic reaction to a specific substance. Contact Dermatitis is not contagious but can be very unpleasant. It is a type of eczema that is triggered by a specific substance, and that substance can range from cosmetics, perfumes, and accessories, to organic herbs or dust.

While most types of Contact Dermatitis usually lead to a rash or irritation of the skin, it is classified into different types based on the triggering substance. Different types of Contact Dermatitis include phototoxic dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis, and irritant contact dermatitis

In phototoxic dermatitis, the skin is inflamed by sunlight, while irritant dermatitis usually results from skin contact with a substance that ends up damaging your skin. Lastly, in allergic contact dermatitis, your skin overreacts to a relatively harmless substance, resulting in a rash that eventually oozes.

Contact Dermatitis is a common skin condition and being familiar with it would help you recognise and receive appropriate care. It may present as a rash, bumps, or even blisters. Moreover, your skin might become dry and end up swelling. Contact dermatitis is commonly encountered among healthcare workers, cleaners that use irritants regularly, florists, and beauticians. Agricultural and construction workers also have a higher risk of contact dermatitis.

Treatment of Contact Dermatitis

Contact Dermatitis is not hard to treat once the cause or the triggering substance is identified. As long as your skin does not come in contact with the causative agent anymore, you should not experience severe symptoms. The condition sometimes does not resolve on its own, and medications are required to deal with the ongoing inflammation. Such medical therapy might help relieve your symptoms and treat the irritation of the skin. Medications most commonly used for contact dermatitis include topical or oral steroids and antihistamines.

Antihistamines are anti-allergic oral drugs that might help decrease allergic reactions and help relieve irritation and itchiness. Topical steroids are prescribed in the form of ointments or creams, applied to the affected area directly, to help relieve inflammation or other severe symptoms.

Contact Dermatitis can cause many painful complications if left untreated. A secondary infection, caused by the repeated scratching of the infected area of the skin, is a common complication. Repeated scratching bursts the small bumps on your skin that ooze, making the skin wet and perfect for bacteria or fungi to infest upon. This can result in a widespread rash on your skin that is harder to treat. A bacterial infection might eventually cause cellulitis.

Following simple yet effective ways to prevent contact dermatitis include avoiding the substance that can potentially cause a skin reaction. You should use good moisturisers as frequently as possible to keep your skin hydrated and healthy. Use hypoallergenic substances that are unscented to avoid an allergic reaction.

Skin consultation £19.99

Skin consultation £19.99

Our simple consultation first process enables you to complete a consultation with a doctor, submitting photos of the affected skin and answering a set of questions that will enable a diagnosis where possible.

Common skin conditions can even include:

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Frequently asked questions about Contact Dermatitis

  • How would my doctor diagnose Contact dermatitis?

    An extensive medical history and good examination are the major diagnostic tools when it comes to allergic reactions such as contact dermatitis. Clinical examination is enough for dermatologists to diagnose this condition.

  • How long does it take to treat Contact Dermatitis?

    It can take anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks to treat it depending on the amount of exposure to the substance your skin had.

  • Is Contact Dermatitis contagious?

    No, Contact Dermatitis is not contagious but can be very unpleasant.

  • How can I prevent Contact Dermatitis?

    Avoid irritants but if exposed, wash the area with soap and water, try to use moisturiser to keep the skin healthy, and wear protective clothing like gloves when using cleaning detergents.

  • When to see a doctor?

    If the rash is unbearably itchy and widespread, it does not get better after 3 weeks, or when it involves your eyes mouth, or face, you should seek medical attention as quickly as possible.

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