Three Main Types of Contact Dermatitis

Friday, September 5th, 2014, 4:15 pm

Contact dermatitis is the medical term for a red, itchy rash that is caused by a substance or allergen that comes into contact with the skin. Contact dermatitis is not contagious, or life threatening, but it can be very irritating for an individual experiencing the condition. Generally, contact dermatitis will subside on its own through avoidance with the substance or allergen that caused the rash. However, if certain symptoms present, it is necessary to seek medical attention. To follow is a brief overview of the three main types of contact dermatitis and when it's time to see a doctor.

Irritant Contact Dermatitis

  • Most common type
  • Categorized as a nonallergic inflammatory reaction in the epidermis (top layer) of the skin
  • Reaction can begin as quickly as a few minutes after exposure to an irritant. In some instances the reaction doesn't start for a few hours.
  • Most common irritants are strong chemical products such as solvents, rubbing alcohol, bleach, saw dust, wool, or newly introduced personal hygiene products such as soaps, deodorants or cosmetics

Allergic Contact Dermatitis

  • Occurs when skin comes into contact with a substance that provokes an immune reaction. When this happens, the substance causing this reaction is referred to as an "allergen."
  • Rash generally remains in area of body that came into direct contact with the allergen
  • Can also be caused by the ingesting of an allergen found in food, medication, or dental hygiene products
  • Once you have developed an allergen to a substance, you are likely to always have an allergic response to the substance, regardless of amount you have come into contact with
  • Most common skin allergens are nickel found in costume jewelry, medications (oral antihistamines and antibiotic creams), perfumes, certain brands of cosmetics, mouth wash, adhesives (formaldehyde found in band aids), deodorants, hair dye, nail polish, tattoo ink, poison ivy, air fresheners
  • Another type of Allergic contact dermatitis is when a combination of allergens and sun exposure cause a rash. This is called photoallergic contact dermatitis.

Occupational Contact Dermatitis

  • Rash resulting from exposure to skin irritants while on-the-job
  • Can be considered irritant or allergic contact dermatitis
  • Professionals at a higher risk are often in the  medical, pharmaceutical, construction and cosmetology fields. Other workers at a higher risk are commonly restaurant servers, swimmers, household cleaners, dry cleaners, gardeners and landscapers.

When You Should Visit a Doctor

Rashes aren't often a medical emergency, although it is possible that from repeatedly scratching a rash that the skin may break. When skin breaks it is a breeding ground for bacterial and fungal infections. If your rash has begun to ooze, or feels warm and is accompanied by a fever, contact a doctor immediately.

Contact Dermatitis Treatment in Astoria

To learn more about treatment for contact dermatitis, or any other conditions we treat, contact Dr. Katechis to schedule a consultation, or visit us today. Walk-ins are always welcome at our office in Astoria. You can reach us directly at (718) 204-7550. We look forward to meeting you.

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Category: Contact Dermatits

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