Contact Dermatitis – What it Truly is and Treating It

Contact dermatitis is inflammation of the skin caused by an allergic reaction by direct contact to a substance for which an individual is allergic. Normally with contact dermatitis a scaly rash and itchiness occur at the point of contact, anywhere on the body. The immune system would kick in and defend against the allergic reaction; however, contact dermatitis patient’s immune systems overreact to the allergy even though the substance seems harmless; like dyes and metals. Other materials that are implicated in contact dermatitis are chemicals in clothing, furs, paints, hair products, cleaning products, perfumes, lather for shaving, and rubber compounds.

Some people with a history of contact dermatitis may be hypersensitive to rubber and there are many rubber chemicals that may produce an allergic reaction. Especially some contained in disinfectants and preservatives in industrial processes: thiourea derivatives. Due to a large number of allergenic chemicals, it is not easy to test for these problems. Also, formaldehyde is an antimicrobial that causes contact dermatitis for many people that are prone to it. This substance can be found in newspapers, medicines, and in some industrial products. Formaldehyde can also be found in cosmetics used as preservatives and are masked by other scientific names.

Symptoms of contact dermatitis start with an itchy red rash and lead to blistering, then into peeling and cracking. A physician can give and assess an allergy patch test to determine which chemicals cause an allergic reaction. The allergy patch test is when the physician exposes small areas of the skin to a variety of allergens. Depending on the person’s reaction to a certain substance the condition will heal within a few days to a few weeks.

Treatments for contact dermatitis are topical medications: Calamine, cortisone creams, and antihistamines. These are to ease the symptoms by reducing the inflammation and itchiness. A topical cream that can be purchased over-the-counter is the Hydrocortisone cream; this is a stronger cream and is necessary for contact dermatitis patients that have a severe reaction.

It is a common myth that people with contact dermatitis should avoid bathing; this is not true and regular bathing will reduce the infections and inflammation. Also when bathing, not to have the water too hot or cold. A home remedy to reduce the inflammation of contact dermatitis is to draw a bath and add two cups of colloidal oatmeal; which is available in drugstores. Another method is to add baking soda to the water before you bathe. When applied, these methods can soothe irritated skin.

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