Contact dermatitis is a type of skin rash that occurs when substances touching your skin cause irritation or an allergic reaction. In both cases your skin becomes red, itchy and sometimes painful. In severe cases, blisters can appear.
In irritant contact dermatitis, products such as bleach, harsh soaps or cleaning agents and many chemicals cause a fairly immediate irritation of the skin. Some persons experience this from exposure to substances at work such as cement, petroleum products, pesticides and herbicides.Read More
With allergic contact dermatitis the rash often does not appear for 1-2 days and can take several days or even weeks to heal. The most common example is rash that occurs when a person allergic to poison ivy (or poison oak or sumac) comes in contact with the leaves, stems or roots of the plant. The plant may be dormant or even dead but the chemical it contains stays active. Exposure to smoke from burning leaves of the plant can cause often cause a sever reaction. It can also be transferred indirectly when you handle pet that has come in contact with the plant.
Another but less common type is photocontact dermatitis. Certain plants and chemicals that come into contact with the skin cause a rash after exposure to sunlight. Celery, lime and certain fragrances can do this in a susceptible person.
Most persons do not have a reaction to a substance when first exposed to it but can become allergic with repeated exposure. For this reason it may be difficult to determine what you are allergic to: it may be an ingredient in a product you have used for years. Patch testing, a type of allergy test where small amounts of the chemicals most likely to cause an allergic reaction are applied to the skin, can help determine if you are allergic to it.
Treatment consists of application of prescription topical corticosteroid creams. In severe cases, corticosteroids are administered by mouth or injection.
For more information, call our office to schedule an appointment with one of our board certified dermatologists today.