What is Contact Dermatitis?

Eczema and Contact Dermatitis have very similar symptoms. So much so that doctors and pharmacists often use both to describe these patches and marks. Both can lead to dry, itchy, irritated skin.

The only real difference between either skin conditions is the cause. Atopic Eczema is caused by inherited and environmental factors. While Contact Dermatitis happens when your skin comes in contact with certain substances and triggers, which irritates your skin. This could be something that irritates everyoneís skin or it may be a particular problem that affects just you.

What causes Contact Dermatitis?

Irritant Contact Dermatitis, also known as Hand Eczema, often affects people who have had eczema as children or have particularly dry skin. These irritants dry out the skin and make it vulnerable to becoming damage and infection. Itís common among jobs and professions where your hand are regularly wet for long periods or are in regular contact with abrasive and irritant substances. (1, 2)

Allergic Contact Dermatitis happens when your skin becomes sensitised to a particular substance. This can appear out of the blue after years of using something. Once it does, it can become a lifelong problem. Common examples are nickel or latex.

How can I treat Contact Dermatitis?

This depends on the type of Contact Dermatitis you have and what causes to flame up. Once you understand, how you treat it becomes clear.

For example, if the nickel on the back of your watch is irritating your wrist, the solution is simple. You stop wearing it. Then, you can soothe your skin with a hydrating emollient.

However, sometimes it can be difficult to avoid certain irritants and triggers. In these situations, the first thing to try is to complete emollient therapy. (1)

Emollients, such as the ones in E45ís range, are very effective moisturisers that can help keep your skin soft and supple, reducing any itching. This works by restoring natural moisture, liquids and oils. This creates a barrier on the skinís surface, which in itself helps prevents moisture being lost and helps stops bacteria from getting in.

A complete emollient therapy means getting into a daily skincare routine. Here is a good routine to follow that should help you manage and treat your Contact Dermatitis.

In the morning, you begin the day with a wash with a soap substitute. These donít contain detergents like ordinary soaps on the market, which causes your skin to become dry. Afterwards, gently pat your skin dry and apply an emollient cream or lotion with clean hands in the direction of how your hair grows.

Emollient creams are designed to sooth thick or brittle skin. Whereas emollient lotions are made lighter and soak into the skin faster, making it greater for use all over the body.

During the day, you should use a soap substitute to wash your hands to avoid detergents. Throughout the day, use an emollient cream or lotion when your skin begins to feel dry or itchy. Donít let your skin dry out, or rub it too hard.

In the evening, enjoy a nice warm bath for about 10 minutes with a little bit of emollient bath oil. This will help clean your skin and a good alternative to soap. Again, itís free from detergents and protects your natural moisture barrier. Afterwards, gently pat your skin dry and apply an emollient lotion or cream while still damp.

In the evening, enjoy a nice warm bath for about 10 minutes with a little bit of emollient bath oil. This will help clean your skin and a good alternative to soap. Again, itís free from detergents and protects your natural moisture barrier. Afterwards, gently pat your skin dry and apply an emollient lotion or cream while still damp.

Emollients work well for mild to moderate cases of Contact Dermatitis. However, if the symptoms continue to persist and youíre still suffering, steroid medication or ointment can be a better, more effective solution for you.

Many people have some concerns about using steroid treatments. Thereís nothing to fear. A low-dose cream such as E45ís Hc45 Hydrocortisone Cream is well balanced and can be used for a maximum of seven days. Hc45 Hydrocortisone Cream is readily available over the counter. However, if youíre unsure, speak with your pharmacist for further advice.

If you need a stronger steroid cream, you can but under the guidance of your GP or pharmacist.

What should I avoid?

Many different things can trigger Contact Dermatitis. Once you know which substances cause it to flare up, you can avoid and better manage the skin condition. (1)

At Chemist Direct, weíve put together the list below to show you some of the common triggers you might come across. Keep an eye out for them and their effect on you.

Remember, we are all different. So you may find your skin feels fine with certain substances and uncomfortable with others. This is normal. Just pay attention to how your body reacts and learn which you need to avoid and be wary about. †

  • Soap, detergents, disinfectants and chemical cleaning products
  • Paints, DIY materials, solvents, glues and resins
  • Citrus fruits and vegetable juices, including tomato, onion and garlic acids and alkalis
  • Abrasive dust from stones, bricks, cement, sand or soil
  • Cold, windy weather or extreme heat
  • Nickel, found in jewellery, cutlery and coins
  • Perfumes and fragrances in toiletries and skincare
  • Plants Ė especially chrysanthemums, primula and grass
  • The adhesive in sticking plasters
  • Metal primers and leather

Patch Testing for Contact Dermatitis


Patch testing can help you work out which everyday irritants are making your skin uncomfortable. It is a simple process which involves simulating potential allergens and applying them to your skin. This is done for 48 hours with a tester plaster. (3)

If you feel this is the best approach for you, your doctor will be able to tell you more about getting this done.

Sources:

  1. NHS
  2. British Skin Foundation
  3. Patient.Info
x

Our website uses cookies so that we can make your shopping experience as simple and enjoyable as possible. You can read all about how we use them in our Cookies Policy. To accept this you don't need to do anything just carry on shopping, have fun. Close