Contact Dermatitis

Definition

Contact dermatitis is inflammation of the outer layers of the skin caused by contact with a particular substance. It usually presents as a rash that is confined to the specific area of the body where the contact occurred.
Contact Dermatitis
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Causes

Contact dermatitis is usually caused by either an irritant or an allergen. An irritant is a substance that irritates the skin. An allergen is a substance that causes an allergic reaction. People may be exposed to certain substances for years and never have a problem, and then suddenly develop contact dermatitis.Some common causes of contact dermatitis include:
  • Acids
  • Alkalis
  • Solvents
  • Acetone
  • Soaps
  • Detergents
  • Metals, such as nickel—common in jewelry allergy
  • Rubber
  • Latex
  • Cosmetics and toiletries
  • Deodorants
  • Sunlight or artificial light
  • Preservatives
  • Plants, such as poison ivy
  • Medications

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your risk of contact dermatitis include:
  • Contact with an irritant or allergen
  • Allergies to certain substances, such as plants, chemicals, or medications

Symptoms

The symptoms of contact dermatitis may vary from person to person. Scratching and rubbing can cause or worsen some symptoms. The rash is usually confined to the area where the contact with the substance occurred, but occasionally may spread. If contact with the substance occurred all over the body, such as with a body lotion, the rash may be large.Symptoms include:
  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Blisters
  • Crusting, oozing, and scaling
  • Temporary thickening of the skin

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