Triggers of Contact Dermatitis and How To Treat It

Common triggers

Triggers vary from person to person and according to the type of contact dermatitis. It is important to know what triggers a reaction in order to avoid contact with the substance in the future.

The following are some of the most common triggers for the different types of contact dermatitis.

Allergic reaction triggers include:

  • rubber
  • poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac
  • medications applied to the skin
  • fragrances in soap
  • the tanning agent found in leather products
  • skin cream
  • deodorant
  • shaving cream
  • latex
  • nickel or gold jewelry
  • citrus fruit
  • cosmetics
  • perfume
  • hair dye

In most cases, allergic reactions do not occur on the first contact with the substance. On the first contact, the person tends to gain a sensitivity to the irritant. Only with a second exposure will the person develop a rash or other symptoms.

Irritant reaction triggers include:

  • pepper spray
  • bleach
  • hand sanitizer
  • battery acid
  • detergent
  • kerosene
  • drain and other cleaners

Irritant reactions are not limited to toxic or more corrosive substances.

In some cases, frequent exposure to the same substance causes reactions. For example, people who frequently wash their hands may develop an irritant response to the soap they use.

Photo contact reaction triggers may include:

  • shaving cream
  • skin ointment
  • certain oils
  • certain medications

Photo contact reactions occur less often than allergic or irritant reactions.

For the reaction to occur, a person needs to be exposed first to the substance and then to the sun. An individual who uses a cream before bed may never know they are photosensitive to the product because it is absorbed well before contact with the sun.

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