Understanding Contact Dermatitis

Dermatitis means inflammation of the skin. Any number of things can cause a skin irritation and sometimes the precise diagnosis is of less interest to the suffering party than the remedy. Poison Ivy and Eczema are types of common skin conditions called contact dermatitis.

Contact dermatitis is an allergy to something that touches the skin. Most common skin conditions involve a rash that can include itchy, red blisters, which can ooze and then develop a crust. In most case, the rash will disappear when the allergen is removed, though sometimes if the allergen has been in contact with the skin for a while, the rash may continue for days or weeks after the allergen is removed.

The only way to cure a case of contact dermatitis is to remove the source of the allergen. In many cases, you know exactly what caused the problem. Sometimes a new cosmetic or deodorant can cause a reaction and when you stop using the substance, the reaction disappears.

Body Parts and Common Allergens That Can Affect Them.

Scalp – Often the rash will appear on the eyelids, neck, face, and ears and sometimes, especially when a substance was applied to the hair, on the hands. Sources are most commonly shampoos, hair dyes and rinses, permanent-wave treatments, dandruff treatments, soaps, bathing caps, wigs, combs, and brushes made of materials that are irritating, curlers, and pins used in hair styling.

Forehead – Most commonly seen as a rash spreading across the forehead. Sources are a hat band or hat linings, visors, helmets, cosmetics, suntan lotion, or anything worn on the forehead, like a sweatband.

Eyes – Sources are cosmetics such as mascara, eyebrow pencil, or eye-shadows, as well as pollens, soaps, hand lotions, insect sprays, and nasal sprays.

Face – Usually cosmetics but could be from any substance used on the face including soap, suntan lotion, shaving cream, aftershave, or something that’s on your hands and transferred to your face.

Ears – Usually from earrings. It can also be from perfume, hair dye, shampoo, eyeglasses or sunglasses, telephone receivers, or ear plugs.

Nose – Nasal sprays, perfumes, paper tissues, eyeglass frames.

Lips and Mouth – Cosmetics such as lipsticks, toothpastes, mouthwashes, cigarettes, cigars, denture adhesives, and candies

Neck – Substances used on the scalp, such as cosmetics, collars, scarves, dress & shirt labels, and fur or wool near the neck.

Underarms – Soaps, deodorants, depilatories, antiperspirants, shaving creams, perfumes.

Hands and Wrists – Dishpan hands are a common form of contact dermatitis caused by hands’ being immersed repeatedly in soapy water. Regular use of vinyl gloves (not rubber) is helpful, as is removing rings when wetting hands and wearing gloves when the weather is cold and windy. Soaps and cleansers used in showering or bathing, gloves, rings, bracelets, topical medications or creams and most any substance that touches the hands can also irritate the skin. Wrists can develop a rash from the metal backing of a watch. Coating the back of the watch with clear nail polish can sometimes remedy this.

Trunk – Clothing, bathing soaps or oils, and underwear.

Feet – Shoes, socks, shoe polishes, fur linings, ankle bracelets, medications, or detergents used on socks.

A few other common allergens that can cause symptoms in sensitive people include nickel, found in jewelry, which is often the cause of a red patch of skin that just won’t go away. Perfume, in any form, can cause reactions in sensitive people.

Natural Prescriptions Common Skin Conditions, such as Contact Dermatitis

  • Identify the cause of the reaction and eliminate the allergen.
  • If you have contact dermatitis on your hands, use vinyl gloves in place of rubber gloves when using cleansers and chemicals and when washing dishes.
  • To relieve symptoms while waiting for the rash to clear, use an over-the-counter cream containing 0.5% hydrocortisone. Use sparingly.

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