There are two types of Contact Dermatitis; allergic contact dermatitis and irritant contact dermatitis. Allergic contact dermatitis is caused by an allergen, which causes the body’s immune system to react abnormally. Irritant contact dermatitis is caused by an irritant such as a strong soap on the skin.
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What are the Causes of Contact Dermatitis?
Allergic contact dermatitis occurs when your skin comes into contact with a substance it is allergic to. Triggers can be anything from metals to cosmetics. Irritant contact dermatitis occurs when your skin is affected by an irritant, causing a burning or stinging sensation, often accompanied by redness and soreness.
There are a number of both internal and external factors that can make contact dermatitis worse. Avoiding these common causes can help you to manage your condition.
Symptoms of contact dermatitis can include any of the following:
- Inflamed/raised skin.
- Dry skin.
- Scaly appearance.
- Feeling of tight skin.
- Cracked skin.
With allergic contact dermatitis, the skin may react many hours - or even days - after coming into contact with the allergen. Additionally, it often does not only affect the area that came into direct contact with the allergen.
The symptoms of irritant contact dermatitis are the same as those listed above, but also include burning and stinging. Symptoms usually appear within 48 hours of contact, with stronger irritants causing faster reactions. Only the area of skin that came directly into contact with the irritant is usually affected. This is often useful in identifying the trigger.
How to Treat Contact Dermatitis?
People who suffer from contact dermatitis must identify and avoid substances that cause it. During attacks, you may use topical treatments, such as steroid creams or emollients.
The Dos and Don’t's of Contact Dermatitis
Contact Dermatitis can be avoided or its severity lessened by following some simple advice:
- Do seek help from your GP or specialist if you think that you may have a contact dermatitis Do avoid environmental factors that seem to trigger dermatitis.
- Don’t go swimming if you find the chlorine in pools makes your dermatitis flare-up, this could be an irritant reaction.
- Don’t assume that this condition will get better by itself, you need expert help.