Almost everyone gets this type of eczema at least once. We get contact dermatitis when something that our skin touches causes a rash. Some rashes happen immediately. Most take time to appear.
When a rash does not clear within a few weeks, you should see a dermatologist.When contact dermatitis develops, treatment is important. It can prevent the contact dermatitis from worsening and help your skin heal.
A few people develop a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis (an-uh-fuh-lax-sis). Symptoms occur within seconds or minutes. A person may have:
In short, the entire body reacts. If you have any of these symptoms, you need immediate medical care.
This skin condition occurs when you have an allergic reaction to something that comes in contact with your skin.
Signs and symptoms rarely appear on contact. It may take a few hours for your skin to react. If this is your first time that your skin has an allergic reaction to that substance, weeks may pass before you notice anything.
When signs and symptoms appear, you may have:
If exposure to the allergen continues, your skin may:
Many substances can irritate our skin. Soap, shampoo, food, and water are mild irritants. With lots of exposure, these can cause irritant contact dermatitis. Getting a strong irritant like battery acid or fiberglass on your skin just once also can cause irritant contact dermatitis.
The signs and symptoms differ for mild and strong irritants.
Mild irritant: The signs and symptoms develop over time. You’ll gradually notice:
When you have irritant contact dermatitis, many things can irritate your skin. You may feel pain on contact. With repeat exposure, the condition worsens.
Some people are more likely to develop contact dermatitis. You can find out whether you have an increased risk by reading Contact dermatitis: Who gets and causes.
Anyone can develop contact dermatitis. People working in certain professions have a higher risk. In fact, this is so common that your doctor may tell you that you have occupational dermatitis.
People who are more likely to get occupational dermatitis include:
Nurses and beauticians often develop dry, cracked skin on their palms and fingers. Wearing latex gloves frequently throughout the day causes some people to develop an allergy to latex. A common sign of this allergy is itchy, inflamed hands.You also have a greater risk of developing contact dermatitis if you have (or had) one of these medical conditions:
Your environment also plays a role. Extreme heat or cold, high humidity, and very dry air make the skin more vulnerable.
When the skin is irritated, a person develops irritant contact dermatitis. Anyone can develop this type of contact dermatitis. It happens when something damages the outer layers of skin.
Almost any chemical, including water, can damage the skin with enough contact. Toxic substances like fiberglass and turpentine quickly damage the skin. Many people develop irritant contact dermatitis when they work with hair dyes, solvents, oils, paints, varnishes, foods, or metalworking fluids.
An allergic reaction causes allergic contact dermatitis. People develop allergic reactions to many substances. Some of the most common causes of allergic contact dermatitis are:
Many people touch a substance for years before an allergy develops.
Sometimes a trigger is needed for an allergic reaction to occur. Allergic contact dermatitis may only occur when the skin:
More than 3,600 substances can cause allergic contact dermatitis. These substances include preservatives in cosmetics, antibiotics applied to the skin, animal dander, dyes in clothing and shoes, and rubber.
With thousands of causes, successfully treating this skin condition can take a bit of detective work. Dermatologists frequently treat this condition. In fact, this is one of the most common reasons to see a dermatologist.
To learn more about treatment, read Contact dermatitis: Diagnosis, treatment, and outcome.