Contact dermatitis is described as a localized irritation or rash of the skin that is triggered by contact with a substance that is considered by the body as foreign. The substances that usually cause contact dermatitis include metals, plant sap, cosmetic additives, cleaning solutions, industrial chemicals, perfumes and latex additives.
Signs and symptoms of contact dermatitis
If you want to distinguish irritant contact dermatitis from allergic contact dermatitis and other types of eczematous dermatitis, it can be difficult task. In most cases, physical examination and the health history of the individual are required.
- The manifestation of a red-colored rash is the initial reaction. It occurs right away in irritant contact dermatitis but for allergic contact dermatitis, the rash does not occur 1-2 days after exposure.
- The skin can develop small structures filled with fluid that can weep. The condition is distinguished from hives that generate momentary itchy welts. Take note that hives are typically triggered by allergic reactions to drugs and food.
- The skin becomes itchy and even burn. For irritant contact dermatitis, it can be more painful than itchy.
- When it comes to irritant contact dermatitis, it usually affects the hands which might be been exposed to certain irritants.
- The moment a reaction starts, it might take up to four weeks long to fully resolve.
When to seek medical care
In case the rash does not seem to improve or continues to spread after a couple of days after self-care measures were provided, a doctor must be consulted for proper evaluation. If the itchiness is severe and a doctor is not available, the individual must be taken to the emergency department right away.
Diagnosing contact dermatitis
The doctor will diagnose contact dermatitis based on the physical examination and the symptoms. X-rays and blood tests are not useful. The proper assessment of allergic contact dermatitis would require the application of chemicals on the skin for 48-72 hours by utilizing specialized occlusive dressings in an attempt to trigger an eruption.
Home remedies for contact dermatitis
The individual must avoid any exposure to any known triggers. In case contact could not be avoided, you have to cleanse the area with cool water and soap to eliminate or inactivate the offending substance.
In case blistering occurs, you have to apply a cool moist compress for 1-5 minutes several times in a day and followed by air drying or using an electric fan.
You can also provide the individual with oral antihistamines such as diphenhydramine to help relieve the itchiness. Avoid applying antihistamine lotions on the skin since the individual might end up with allergic contact dermatitis from the lotion.
When it comes to mild cases that only involve a small area, an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream can be applied. You can learn more about these remedies by enrolling in a course on first aid today.