Eczema Atopic Contact Dermatitis
Contact dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin at the area of contact. There are two types of contact dermatitis, irritant and allergic. Symptoms include itching, redness, warmth, swelling, cracking, pain, scaling and crusting. The skin can crack, bleed and even ooze, depending on the severity of the reaction.
Dermatitis can occur from exposure to the environment (dry weather), chemicals (harsh soaps), allergens ( nickel) and physical trauma (abrasions). Your physician may diagnose irritant or allergic contact dermatitis from your medical history, occupation, symptoms, and patch testing. The treatment for both irritant and allergic contact dermatitis is based on avoiding contact with the substance that caused the reaction.
Irritant Contact Dermatitis
This non-specific inflammatory condition develops after skin is exposed to substances that are physically, chemically or mechanically traumatizing. Symptoms are usually confined to the area of contact. Symptoms may recur with additional irritant exposure and may be difficult to distinguish from allergic contact dermatitis.
Irritant contact dermatitis occurs due to irritating substances such as household cleaners, harsh soaps and industrial solvents. Your skin can react to these substances within minutes or hours, and stops reacting soon after they are gone.
Allergic Contact Dermatitis
Allergic contact dermatitis occurs from a person’s immune response to contact allergens, as with as fragrances, preservatives, nickel, gold, metals, and many others. Allergic reactions to contact allergens develop hours or days after exposure, and may take weeks to heal. A personal or family history of other allergies may increase a person’s chance of developing this skin condition.
Symptoms typically manifest 24 to 72 hours after allergen exposure, vary in intensity and often include itching and vesiculation. Over 3,000 chemicals are reportedly capable of causing allergic contact dermatitis but relatively few allergens account for most cases. These common allergens form the basis of diagnostic patch testing that is used to differentiate allergic from irritant contact dermatitis.
Approximately half of all contact dermatitis cases are due to allergic contact dermatitis. Patients with persistent, un-diagnosed contact dermatitis can suffer for years with a diminished quality of life. Unresolved cases may increase medical treatment costs. However, the condition can be effectively treated once an accurate diagnosis is obtained.