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Skin Care Questions: What is Contact Dermatitis?

We’ve all been there. That moment when your arm starts to itch. You look down and see a red patch and immediately start to panic. Is it mites? Is it dermatitis? Is it skin cancer?

In truth, we tend to blow these sorts of things way out of proportion. The fact of the matter is, contact dermatitis is an extremely common rash, far more common than any worst-case scenario we often imagine.

Let’s answer your skincare questions about dermatitis and hopefully ease you of some of your worries.

What is contact dermatitis?

To put simply, contact dermatitis is a condition in which some chemical or substance comes into contact with skin and irritates it. These substances can include skin care products, cleaning products, plants, and more. Just about anything that irritates your skin can be called contact dermatitis. Yet, there are two main classifications of contact dermatitis; allergic contact dermatitis and irritant contact dermatitis.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis

This condition occurs when the skin has an allergic reaction to being exposed to something new. We see this happen quite often in individuals who are sensitive to latex gloves or low-quality jewelry. Certain perfumes and skin care products can also cause an allergic reaction, thus resulting in an itchy rash. Even the irritation we receive from plants like poison ivy is considered allergic contact dermatitis.

Irritant Contact Dermatitis

This form of dermatitis is a bit more serious as it occurs when the skin comes into contact with something toxic. This can include substances like acids, bleach, harsh cleansers, kerosene, and more. Less toxic substances can even be problematic when used too often, like certain soaps and lotions.

What are the symptoms of contact dermatitis?

The symptoms people experience are based upon the type of contact dermatitis they have. Those with allergic contact dermatitis may experience dry, crusty skin, pus-filled blisters, itchy and burning skin, swelling, and more. For those with irritant contact dermatitis, they may experience blistering, cracked skin, tight skin, and open sores. Please keep in mind that this is a general list of symptoms and what you experience may be different from what we described.

How do you treat contact dermatitis?

Oftentimes, the symptoms of contact dermatitis disappear on their own. However, due to the sheer discomfort of this condition, many individuals choose to try at home remedies to ease the itching and irritation.

First and foremost, you should avoid scratching the irritated area at all costs. One of the easiest ways to worsen your symptoms is to scratch uncontrollably.

Secondly, lightly wash the affected area with mild soap and cool water and allow it to air dry. This removes any irritants from your skin.

Next, apply medicated petroleum jelly, like Vaseline, to the irritated area. This will soothe your skin and lessen the severity of the itching. Feel free to purchase and use over-the-counter anti-itching creams and ointments.

As we mentioned, contact dermatitis will fade over time, but in the meantime avoid scratching and avoid any products that might trigger a flare-up.

If you want more information or are seeking medical advice regarding your symptoms and live in Cincinnati, Ohio or a surrounding city, our experts at The Dermatology Group are ready to give you all of the advice, resources and treatment options you need. Give us a call today!

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