Contact dermatitis is a type of skin rash which occurs when the skin comes into contact with chemicals or physical agent that cause an allergic (Allergens) or irritant (Irritants) reaction. It can be acute or chronic skin inﬂammation. This substances can be contacted either at home, work or any other place.
Examples of irritants are: Solvents; Rubbing alcohol; Bleach and detergents; Shampoos, permanent wave solutions; Airborne substances, such as sawdust or wool dust; Plants; Fertilizers and pesticides.
Examples of Allergens: Nickel, which is used in jewelry, buckles and many other items; Medications, such as antibiotic creams and oral antihistamines; Balsam of Peru, which is used in many products, such as perfumes, cosmetics, mouth rinses and flavorings; Formaldehyde, which is in preservatives, disinfectants and clothing; Personal care products, such as deodorants, body washes, hair dyes, cosmetics and nail polish; Plants such as poison ivy and mango, which contain a highly allergenic substance called urushiol; Airborne substances, such as ragweed pollen and spray insecticides
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Contact dermatitis usually develops within minutes to hours of exposure and can last two to four weeks.
Types of contact dermatitis
Irritant contact dermatitis: Irritant contact dermatitis (ICD) is caused by direct tissue damage following a single exposure or multiple exposures to a known irritant.
Allergic contact dermatitis: This occurs when skin, which has become sensitive to a certain substance (allergen), comes in contact with that substance again. In allergic contact dermatitis, tissue damage by allergic substances is mediated through immunologic mechanisms.
Signs and symptoms of contact dermatitis include:
- A red rash
- Itching, which may be severe
- Dry, cracked, scaly skin
- Bumps and blisters, sometimes with oozing and crusting
- Swelling, burning or tenderness
- Stiff, tight feeling skin
- Painful ulcers on the skin
Occupational risk factors
There are some occupations that place people in the occupation at higher risk of developing these conditions. They include:
- Health care
- Metal work
- Construction work
- Hairdressing and cosmetology
- Auto mechanics
- Cleaning jobs
- Agricultural work
Read Also: What is an occupational injury
How to prevent contact dermatitis
Preventing the ailment is the best option. To prevent it, consider these three (3) points:
- Avoid irritants and allergens: Identify irritants and allergens in your environment, and avoid them as much as possible.
- Wash your skin: If you cannot avoid the irritant and allergens, you have to maintain good hygiene after using them by washing your skin thoroughly, in case any particle had stick to your skin during use. Wash your skin right away after coming into contact with it. Use a mild, fragrance-free soap and warm water. Rinse completely. Also wash any clothing or other items that may have come into contact with a plant allergen, such as poison ivy.
- Wear protective clothing or gloves: Face masks, goggles, gloves and other protective items can shield you from irritating substances, including household cleansers. Make sure you use them.
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If you notice any of the above symptoms, visit your doctor for assessment and treatment.
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