Contact dermatitis is a reaction that can occur when the skin comes in contact with certain substances, which can cause skin inflammation. Irritants are substances that cause burning, itching or redness. Common irritants include solvents, industrial chemicals, detergents, fumes, tobacco smoke, paints, bleach, woolen fabrics, acidic foods, astringents and other alcohol (excluding cetyl alcohol) containing skin care products, and some soaps and fragrances. Allergens are usually animal or vegetable proteins from foods, pollens, or pets.
Contact dermatitis is most often seen around the hands or parts of the body that touched the irritant/allergen. There are two kinds of contact dermatitis: irritant and allergic.
Irritant dermatitis is the most common type. It’s caused by contact with acids, alkaline materials such as soaps and detergents, fabric softeners, solvents, or other chemicals. The reaction can look like a red, dry scaly rash, or can look more like a burn.
Allergic contact dermatitis is caused by exposure to a substance or material to which you have become allergic.
Although you may not have a reaction to a substance when you are first exposed to it, regular use can eventually cause sensitivity and a reaction to the product. Some products cause a reaction only when the skin is also exposed to sunlight (photosensitivity). These include shaving lotions, sunscreens, sulfa ointments, some perfumes, coal tar products, and oil from the skin of a lime. A few airborne allergens, such as ragweed or insecticide spray, can cause contact dermatitis.
View more allergic contact dermatitis pictures at skinsight.com.