Triggers of Contact Dermatitis and How To Treat It

Most people experience the unpleasant itching of contact dermatitis at least once in their lifetime.

While most people do not experience a major allergic reaction, the effects of contact dermatitis can be unpleasant until they subside.

When a person’s skin comes into contact with an irritating substance, they may develop an itchy or burning rash. This reaction is known as contact dermatitis.

Types of contact dermatitis

 

While contact dermatitis can seem like it develops out of nowhere, there are several common types:

Irritant contact dermatitis is the most common type of contact dermatitis. It happens when the skin touches an irritating chemical, experiences too much friction, or makes contact with heat.

Allergic contact dermatitis is caused by an allergic reaction or by the immune system overreacting to a substance or chemical. Contact urticaria, also known as hives, is a less common type of allergic contact dermatitis that occurs immediately after exposure to an allergen.

Occupational contact dermatitis occurs in certain professions where the workers may come into repeated, frequent exposure to irritants or allergens, such as rubber, latex, or chemicals. These people include healthcare workers, hairdressers, and food servers among many others.

Photo contact dermatitis occurs after a person comes into contact with an irritant or allergen and the area of contact subsequently receives sun exposure that causes a reaction.

In all of these cases, an itchy or burning rash appears either immediately or within a few days. It is important that people treat the rash and know what triggered it in order to avoid contact dermatitis in the future.

Symptoms of contact dermatitis

In nearly all cases of contact dermatitis, a rash will develop after exposure to an allergen or irritant. In most cases of contact dermatitis, the rash will be red, itchy, and may sting. If exposure to an irritant or allergen continues, the skin may become dark and leathery.

Additionally, some types of contact dermatitis have the following symptoms:

  • blisters
  • dry, cracked, and flaky skin
  • rash
  • redness
  • burning sensation
  • pain or itching
  • swelling

To distinguish between types of contact dermatitis, a person should pay attention to when the symptoms start.

When contact dermatitis develops due to an irritant reaction, symptoms can occur immediately upon contact with the irritant. Ulcers may also develop in severe cases, which allows the person to identify the triggering irritant.

In cases of photo contact dermatitis, the rash only appears once an individual is exposed to sunlight.

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