Contact dermatitis is a common skin condition characterized by inflammation resulting from direct skin contact with an irritant or allergen. It manifests as redness, itching, and sometimes blistering, and can affect individuals of all ages and backgrounds.
Irritant Contact Dermatitis (ICD): This form is more common and results from exposure to irritating substances such as soaps, detergents, or chemicals. The severity often depends on the concentration and duration of exposure.
Allergic Contact Dermatitis (ACD): A delayed hypersensitivity reaction to specific allergens, ACD occurs when the immune system reacts to substances like nickel, poison ivy, or fragrances. The response may not appear until 24 to 72 hours after exposure.
Patch Testing: This involves applying small amounts of common allergens to the patient’s skin, usually on the back. The skin is then observed for reactions over a specified period, helping identify allergens responsible for ACD.
Skin Prick Testing: Commonly used for respiratory allergies, this test can also be adapted to identify contact allergens. Small amounts of allergens are applied to the forearm, and the skin is pricked to allow the substances to enter the epidermis, eliciting an immediate allergic response if present
Topical Steroids: Mild to moderate cases often respond well to topical corticosteroids, which help reduce inflammation and itching.
Emollients and Moisturizers: Keeping the skin well-hydrated is crucial to prevent dryness and promote healing. Emollients soothe the skin and improve its barrier function.
Oral Antihistamines: These may be recommended to alleviate itching and improve sleep quality, particularly in cases of severe pruritus.
Avoidance of Triggers: Identifying and avoiding contact with the allergens or irritants responsible for the dermatitis is paramount to preventing recurrence.