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What Is Contact Dermatitis?

Contact dermatitis is a type of eczema that is caused by contact with a substance someone is allergic to. Although temporary, it can cause itching and redness which makes the skin very dry and inflamed.

Once whatever is causing the contact dermatitis is removed from the skin, the problem usually clears up very quickly on its own. If itching or soreness is particularly severe, there are various treatments that can help.

What kinds of things can trigger contact dermatitis?

There are many different things that can bring about contact dermatitis but the most usual ones are:

  • Soap and other toiletries
  • Hair dye
  • Perfumes and cosmetics
  • Latex rubber
  • Some cleaning products like detergent and washing up liquid
  • Poison ivy, poison sumac and poison oak
  • Nickel (often found in fashion jewellery and belt buckles)
  • Certain skin lotions
  • Citrus fruit, especially the peel

Symptoms of contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis usually makes the skin become blistered, itchy, cracked and dry. People with lighter skin may find it appears red to look at, and in darker skin people it may appear purple, grey or dark brown.

This reaction typically starts within a few hours or days of exposure to the thing that caused it. Any part of the body can be affected by symptoms, although it’s usually seen on the face and hands.

Dermatitis - Wikipedia

What treatments are available for contact dermatitis?

If whatever is causing your contact dermatitis can be identified and avoided, then symptoms should get better fairly quickly. Within a few days or so, your skin should also start to heal completely.

If it’s very hard or impossible to avoid the trigger, there are a number of treatments you can try to help ease symptoms. These include emollients (moisturisers), which can be applied to the skin to stop it becoming dry, or steroid cream which can be prescribed by your doctor.

Are you a healthcare professional who regularly sees patients presenting with contact dermatitis, and other minor skin conditions?

Why not enhance your skills and knowledge around this and other minor skin conditions with our one-day CPD course Recognising and managing acute skin conditions in primary care. Aimed specifically at nurses, pharmacists, paramedics and other allied healthcare professionals, this highly interactive course looks at a range of minor skin problems as well as their diagnosis and treatment.

The next one is being held on 14th May 2020 at Hamilton House in London, but spaces fill up quickly so book up early. All course material and refreshments are provided.