Contact Dermatitis

Allergic contact dermatitis is caused by your body’s reaction to something that directly contacts the skin. Many different substances can cause allergic contact dermatitis, which are called ‘allergens’. Usually these substances cause no trouble for most people, and may not even be noticed the first time the person is exposed. But once the skin becomes sensitive or allergic to the substance, any exposure will produce a rash. The rash usually doesn’t start until a day or two later, but can start a soon as hours or as late as a week.

The dermatitis usually shows redness, swelling and water blisters, from tiny to large. The blisters may break, forming crusts and scales. Untreated, the skin may darken and become leathery and cracked. Allergic contact dermatitis can be difficult to distinguish from other rashes, especially after it been present for a while.

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.

The dermatologist and patient will discuss the materials that touch the person’s skin at work and home, and try to identify the allergen. The dermatologist may also perform patch tests. Patch testing is a safe and quick way to diagnose contact allergies. A small amount of the suspected allergen is applied to the skin for a fixed time, usually two days. Some things like nickel, rubber, dyes, and poison ivy, poison oak and related plants are fairly common allergens.

Adapted from original source: AOCD & AAD

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