Contact Dermatitis-Pictures, Symptoms, Treatment, Causes


Contact dermatitis is a condition in which inflammation of skin is experienced. These are in fact localized rashes or skin irritations that are usually caused due to foreign substances. There are various substances that may cause contact dermatitis such as poison ivy or poisonous plants, certain foods, metals, some chemicals, cosmetics, detersives, scented perfumes and many more.

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Causes of contact dermatitis

Causes of contact dermatitis may be segregated in two different categories depending on the types of contact dermatitis. There are two kinds of dermatitis mentioned below along with their respective causes:

Allergic contact dermatitis:
Similar to other allergic reactions, even allergic contact dermatitis also results due to reaction of immune system. Here is how it takes place

  • The immune system of an individual may have exaggerated respond to foreign substance such as animal protein or vegetable protein. The immune system then gets stimulated which causes it to generate antibodies against these allergens. Such over reaction or exaggerated response to foreign substance is usually known as hypersensitivity reaction
  • Immunoglobulin E or IgE is an antibody which is stored on particular cells known as ‘mast cells’.
  • When these antibodies come in contact with allergen they result in secretion of chemical as well as hormones known as ‘mediators’. For example, Histamine is also a kind of mediator.
  • The signs and symptoms of allergic reaction are usually caused due to effects of such mediators. For example in this case, wherein histamine is a mediator, itchy rashes may be a symptom or allergic reaction.

In allergic contact dermatitis you may also have skin reaction to something which came in direct contact (touch) with your skin. Dissimilar to other allergies the reaction is usually external rather than internal.

In most cases the initial or first exposure to such substances does not cause skin issues. However, it sensitizes the skin region so that your body me react to the substance when you come in contact with it again. In case you react for the first time when coming in contact with any allergen, then probably you were exposed to it before about which you may not be aware of.

  • Common plants that may cause contact dermatitis may include poison ivy, poison sumac or poison oak
  • There are many other substances that may lead to such allergic conditions such as hair dye or hair straightener, certain metals that we wear in belts and jewelries, latex rubber etc.
  • The scented soap, shampoos, body lotions, creams perfume and other cosmetics etc
  • Also to your information, there are some medicines that may also cause allergic reaction these medications may include orally administrative medicine or other that can be applied on skin.

Irritant contact dermatitis

Irritant contact dermatitis results due to direct contact with substances that may cause damage to your skin directly. The longer such substances stay in direct contact of your skin the more damage will be experienced by you. There are several substance such as chemical, cleansing products, bleaches etc. In some cases even household products which are of harsh nature may also cause such issues.

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Apart from the two aforementioned forms, people with other skin issues, for example eczema, etc, are at risk of also developing contact dermatitis.

Symptoms of Contact Dermatitis

Identifying allergic contact dermatitis in distinction to contact dermatitis is very difficult. Allergic dermatitis is often localized and is caused due to direct contact to the skin where as irritant dermatitis may not be localized.

  • One of the most common symptoms of contact dermatitis is red rashes appearing on the skin. Such rashes may appear faster in case of contact dermatitis. However, in case of allergic contact dermatitis it may sometimes take approx one or two days for rashes to appear.
  • Some red rashes may be elevated like small bumps. You may also experience blisters.
  • Inflammation or burning sensation may be experienced. You may also feel itchiness on the affected surface of the skin. Sometimes the region may have more painful sensation than itchiness.
  • Irritant contact dermatitis usually afflicts at hand or feet as these regions are more exposed to outer substances.

Treatment of contact dermatitis

Once these symptoms starts to appear it may take approximately 4 week for the condition to ebb away completely. It is essential to see a doctor if your condition or symptoms are not improving after few days of self care. You should see your doctor if you are experiencing intolerable symptoms of contact dermatitis. The treatment may vary and greatly depend on the cause of the condition. Common treatment of the condition is said to be corticosteroid and antihistamine medications, body lotion as well as creams. It is also believed that oatmeal bath provides relieve from itching.

It is better to prevent the condition from occurring by avoiding contact with allergens, wash skin region that came in contact with allergic substances, keep away from poisonous plants, wear full clothes in regions where pollens or allergens are frequently found and take a bath always when you come home from outdoor. These things will help you in preventing contact dermatitis.

Contact Dermatitis Pictures

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