Contact Dermatitis

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 Contact Dermatitis

Contact Dermatitis

This image displays an allergy to the nickel found in the watch case. The result is a scaly, itchy, persistent skin rash where the watch touches the skin.

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.

Other irritants may include:

  •  Cement
  •  Hair dyes
  •  Long-term exposure to wet diapers
  •  Pesticides or weed killers
  •  Rubber gloves
  •  Shampoos

 

Allergic Contact Dermatitis

The well-demarcated line correlates with elastic in nylon stockings that caused this allergic reaction.

The well-demarcated line correlates with elastic in nylon stockings that caused this allergic reaction.

Allergic contact dermatitis is caused by exposure to a substance or material to which you have become allergic.

Common allergens include:

  • Adhesives, including those used for false eyelashes or toupees
  • Antibiotics such as neomycin rubbed on the surface of the skin
  • Balsam of Peru (used in many personal products and cosmetics, as well as in many foods and drinks)
  • Fabrics and clothing
  • Fragrances in perfumes, cosmetics, soaps, and moisturizers
  • Nail polish, hair dyes, and permanent wave solutions
  • Nickel or other metals (found in jewelry, watch straps, metal zips, bra hooks, buttons, pocketknives, lipstick holders, and powder compacts)
  • Poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, and other plants
  • Preservatives in personal care products such as diazolidinyl urea, formaldehyde, methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, and quaternium-15.
  • Rubber or latex gloves or shoes

 

This is irritant contact dermatitis of the web spaces and fingers.

This is irritant contact dermatitis of the web spaces and fingers.

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.