Contact dermatitis is a type of eczema that occurs when an irritant comes into direct contact with the skin causing an allergic reaction or irritation to the skin. This inflammation to the skin often leads to itchy, red rashes. Although uncommon, bacterial infection is the most common complication that can develop. Rarely is it fatal, unless causing anaphylaxis. Contact dermatitis cannot be transmitted from one person to another, however, its presence may be present in many family members (inherited).
Contact dermatitis often leads to a great amount of discomfort to the person suffering from it. Thus, it is highly recommended for individuals to administer first aid. Learn how to apply first aid on contact dermatitis and other common skin conditions by joining First Aid Courses.
Types of Contact Dermatitis
There are two types of contact dermatitis: irritant dermatitis and allergic dermatitis. These two kinds of dermatitis result to different reactions to the body.
- More common
- Irritation occurs to a localized area where the skin comes into direct contact with the irritant
- An allergic reaction occurs after coming into contact with the allergen
- Makes use of the immune system
- System-wide reaction
Causes of Contact Dermatitis
The irritants are not always chemicals. Some of the irritants leading to contact dermatitis are objects that do not cause inflammation to most individuals. These include:
- Alkalinic (basic) substances such as soaps, fabric softeners, detergents,
- Hair dye
- Wet diapers (for infants and adults)
- Pesticide and weed killer
- Rubber gloves
- Metals, such as nickel, found in jewelries, buttons
- Certain fabrics and clothing
- Rubber/ latex gloves
- Nail polish
- Certain substances found in perfumes, cosmetics
- Poison ivy, oak, sumac, and other plants that contain urushiol
Signs and Symptoms of Contact Dermatitis
When the irritant is first exposed to the skin, symptoms do not always manifest immediately. Usually, repeated or prolonged use leads to a sensitivity to these irritants leading to a reaction the next time it is used. Symptoms will be different for every person but the following symptoms are commonly observed:
- Itching that is relieved upon scratching
- Red, dry and scaly skin
- Burning sensation
- Small cuts on the skin
- Patches or streaks of red in the local area
- Scaly, thick skin
- Warmness and tenderness
- Moist, oozing blisters that will crust over
First Aid Management for Contact Dermatitis
Contact dermatitis usually goes away on its own within two to three weeks. It can be managed at home with the following first aid tips:
- Identify the irritant or allergen and avoid these.
- If there are remnants of the irritant that are left on the skin, remove it. Wash the afflicted area with plenty of water.
- To help keep skin moisture, apply topical moisturizers.
- To minimize the redness and itchiness, apply corticosteroid ointments or creams over the affected area.
- To reduce itching, one may place wet dressings or antipruritic lotions.
Contact dermatitis is a type of eczema that occurs when the skin comes into direct contact with an irritant causing irritation to the skin.