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About Contact Dermatitis

by Contributing Writer
  • Overview

    Dermatitis indicates that there is inflammation in the skin. Contact dermatitis occurs when a specific substance or trigger irritates the skin after contact. A variety of triggers can aggravate the skin. Being able to identify what your triggers are, as well as the symptoms that cause this condition, can better help you treat this irritating problem.
  • Identification

    Contact dermatitis can appear in many forms. The most common is a red, raised patchy area that sometimes looks like a burn. In severe cases, blisters with fluid inside them may appear. This type of rash is extremely itchy and can often be painful as well. Unlike other types of dermatitis, a reaction will only occur where the offending trigger has touched.
  • Triggers

    Many different substances can trigger contact dermatitis. Some of the main offenders include detergents, hair dye, soaps, make-up, latex and costume jewelry. Plants and weeds such as poison ivy, oak and sumac are other triggers that can cause a flare up. If you are unsure of which triggers are causing your contact dermatitis, visit an allergist to get tested.
  • Home Care

    Besides avoiding the offending trigger, there are preventative measures that can be taken to reduce the frequency of flare ups as well as to reduce further aggravation of any existing rash. Take cool, short showers and use mild soaps and shampoos while bathing. Wear cotton clothing and avoid any rough materials that can further aggravate your skin. Avoid scratching when possible. If nighttime itching is a problem, wear socks on your hands when you sleep.
  • Medication

    To relieve the itching and help promote healing, a topical corticosteroid or cortisone cream may be required. For extreme itching, antibiotics may also be recommended to reduce inflammation and stop the scratching. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, both of these medications are available over the counter or by prescription. Talk to your doctor to see what is best for you.
  • Warning

    Be aware that extended use of topical corticosteroids can be dangerous. Skin thinning, easy bruising and loss of pigment color are some potential side effects of prolonged use. Try to limit using cortisone cream to short periods of time. It is important to stop excessive itching. Ongoing scratching can lead to bacterial infections as well as neurodermatitis. This condition occurs to areas of the body that are frequently scratched. The sites can turn the skin red or even darker than other areas of your skin.

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