Just as it sounds, you develop allergic contact dermatitis when your skin comes in contact with foreign agents that it finds repulsive. These agents may be chemicals, creams, detergents, treatment and other skincare products. As a form of defence, your body quickly reacts to this agent, causing a reddish appearance or other symptoms around the contact region of the skin. However, most of these cases are usually self-resolving, or can be treated pretty easily and shouldn’t be a cause for alarm.
Causes of Allergic contact dermatitis
Common allergic contact dermatitis triggers are dyes, citrus fruits, nickel, leather, perfumes or topical medications, latex rubber and similar materials. kerosene, battery acid, detergents and bleach are other triggers that can elicit symptoms when in contact with the skin. However, they may not cause irritating symptoms as other agents. Gold is another agent with growing allergic abilities. Nickel, commonly found in snaps on jeans or costume jewellery can also cause allergic dermatitis on the ears.
Symptoms of irritating agents on the skin may be felt almost instantaneously, for example, an acid or bleach. For allergic contact dermatitis, symptoms may come up few days after and are usually felt around the skin area affected. In most cases, blisters, redness and swelling are experienced. Other symptoms include burning or itchy sensations, scaly or dry skin and sensitivity to the sun.
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What to do
Always consult your doctor if home treatment remedies don’t work after a couple of days, especially if the symptoms occur close to sensitive areas of the body like the eyes, mouth etc. In the case of rash, avoid scratching affected parts to prevent worsening inflammation and use moisturizers to soothing the area. Anti-itch creams like calamine lotion should also come in handy. If blisters are seen, then a cold moist compress will be appropriate. Anti-histamine drugs, if needed, should also be used to help relieve itching.
Who is at risk of allergic contact dermatitis?
Nobody is safe from allergic or irritant contact dermatitis. What may cause irritation to some individuals, for example, some creams and perfumes, may not necessarily cause similar reactions to others. We are all exposed to one or more of these agents in our daily routines. However, a combination of many of these agents increases your risk. Florists, healthcare workers and hairdressers who regularly come in contact with many of these agents are thus more prone to developing either irritant or allergic contact dermatitis.
In any case, as with any other condition, seeing your physician shouldn’t be delayed if you find it difficult to recognize what the problem is. Whether allergic or irritant contact dermatitis, you will get a faster relief of symptoms when the cause is known. Besides, any potentially debilitating condition will be detected if the rash is neither of these dermatitis. So stay healthy, keep safe and watch the irritant triggers!