Contact dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin that occurs when an irritant comes into contact with the skin and causes either an irritant or an allergic reaction. Contact dermatitis is divided into two types, allergic and irritant, according to the type of reaction caused. Contact dermatitis is the most common occupational skin disease (85-95 per cent of all occupational skin diseases) and is particularly common among hairdressers and manicurists. The overall prevalence of contact dermatitis in the population is estimated to be between 2 and 6 %.
How does contact dermatitis occur?
In the case of allergic dermatitis, the immune system influences the appearance of rashes. Every time a person is exposed to an allergen, the immune system thinks it is under attack and starts to defend itself by producing antibodies, leading to symptoms. There is no rash on first contact, but during this time the person becomes sensitised and produces memory cells so that the next time the skin is exposed to the same allergen it can defend itself.
The most common allergic reactions can be caused by: leather products (chemicals used to treat, dye or prepare the skin), nickel (a metal found in jewellery or buttons and belt buckles), latex, hair dyes or other hair styling products, fragrances, and the Peruvian conditioner found in soaps, shampoos, perfumes and other cosmetics. Also some applied medicines, herbs, etc.
If the dermatitis is irritative, the immune system does not influence the appearance of rashes. They are caused by the direct effect of the irritant on your skin. Irritative dermatitis can be caused by water (prolonged exposure), acids or alkalis, detergents, organic solvents etc. For example, irritation rashes can occur where the skin comes into contact with labels or as a result of burns.
How is contact dermatitis manifested?
The symptoms of irritant and allergic contact dermatitis are similar. The skin becomes red, swollen, itchy, itchy and urinary after contact with an irritant or allergenic substance. Blistering, blisters, sores or scabs may appear. Prolonged digging may cause thickening and flaking of the skin. Symptoms usually disappear after 1-3 weeks after contact with the material has stopped. The differences are not significant – the irritant reaction usually occurs less than 12 hours after contact with the irritant and the rashes appear only on the area where the material came into contact with the skin. Allergic reactions occur later than irritant reactions, after 12-72 hours (except for initial sensitisation, which usually lasts 7-10 days). Unlike irritative dermatitis, allergic dermatitis rashes may spread to areas of the skin that have not been in direct contact with the allergen.
How is contact dermatitis diagnosed?
Contact dermatitis is diagnosed during a consultation, after an examination of the skin and a more detailed understanding of the possible causes of the rashes. Allergy samples are taken to distinguish whether it is allergic dermatitis and what substance caused it. The most common tests are patch tests, which are samples used to detect slow-type allergic reactions. Leaflets with the most common allergens are taped to the back and kept for 48 hours. It is then removed and evaluated 48, 72 and 96 hours later to see if any rashes have appeared where the slips were stuck.
How is contact dermatitis treated?
As the symptoms are caused by contact with an irritant substance, the main principles of treatment would be to remove the causative substance and treat the resulting skin inflammation. Ensuring the integrity of the skin’s structure, moisturising it and protecting it from other irritants is essential. Steroid creams may be applied for the first few days. These substances reduce inflammation, redness and itching. If the rashes are widespread allergic contact dermatitis can be treated with antihistamines. In very severe conditions, your doctor may prescribe oral corticosteroids.
How to treat dermatitis?
It’s only when we get skin rashes or severe itching that we get worried and wonder what could have provoked and caused the changes on our skin. Many factors influence the appearance of rashes, and it is not always possible to fully identify the causes that led to their appearance.
Heredity and the interaction between immune and environmental factors are the most common factors that contribute to the development of dermatitis. How can I treat dermatitis properly and prevent recurrence? What measures can be taken to reduce rashes, dryness or scaling?
The treatment of dermatitis depends on the type of dermatitis, as dermatitis can be atopic and contact dermatitis. It can also lead to the formation of a rosacea. Infectious and nervous dermatitis occur when the dermatitis is exacerbated by an infection or on a nervous basis.
The main symptoms of atopic dermatitis are:
- itching of the skin;
- redness and rashes;
- wet skin (in the acute period);
- dry skin (chronically).
Itching caused by atopic dermatitis is the most common cause of scratching. At the same time, the integrity of the skin is compromised when itchy areas are excavated. Infection often follows.
In allergic contact dermatitis, rashes appear on areas that have come into contact with the allergen (soaps, acids, alkalis, thinners, etc.).
The main symptoms of allergic contact dermatitis are:
- itching and redness of the skin;
- skin swelling;
- scratchy skin;
- broken skin;
- dry skin;
- wet skin and scabbed skin (in acute periods).
In order to recover and cure dermatitis, potential allergens that provoke the disease and cause certain exacerbations should be avoided. Also, various soaps and detergents that dry the skin should be avoided at home. It is important to avoid drying out the skin in any way possible. It is recommended to apply an emollient immediately after showering. It is also very important to control itching and scratching. Rough, tight and constricting clothing should also be avoided when suffering from dermatitis. It is best to choose breathable cotton fabrics. Avoiding emotional stress is very important in the treatment of dermatitis. It is also necessary to maintain a cool ambient temperature. Dermatitis sufferers often try to treat it with home remedies. They use valerian, St John’s wort and mint. They take baths with chamomile, which soothes inflamed skin and removes redness. Tries oak bark to treat open wounds and other remedies.
As far as the treatment of dermatitis is concerned, you should not rush into folk remedies without consulting your doctor, so as not to harm your skin even more. Specialist help and systematic treatment are important in the treatment of this disease. For mild dermatitis, doctors prescribe creams and ointments that are free of urea or lactic acid, and for more severe dermatitis, oral medications. Dermatitis is not only distressing because of its aesthetic appearance, but also because it is slow to heal. It is very important to follow the doctor’s recommendations throughout the treatment. It is important to treat the disease sensibly and with the help of a specialist.