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General Practice 2023

Contact dermatitis: what é, symptoms, causes and treatment

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Contact dermatitis: what é, symptoms, causes and treatment
Contact dermatitis: what é, symptoms, causes and treatment
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Contact dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin that occurs after contact with an irritating substance or object, such as cosmetics, perfumes, soap, cleaning products or jewelry, for example.

Irritation caused by contact dermatitis leads to symptoms such as itching, intense redness, swelling, skin dryness and scaling.

It is important that the cause of dermatitis is identified, so that the irritating object or substance can be avoided. In addition, it is recommended to consult a dermatologist to start the most appropriate treatment according to the severity of the symptoms, and the use of corticosteroid ointments may be recommended to relieve symptoms.

Main symptoms

The main symptoms of contact dermatitis are:

  • Redness and itching at the site;
  • Scaling and small balls with or without liquid, in the affected region;
  • Swelling of the affected region;
  • Presence of small wounds on the skin;
  • Extremely dry skin.

Symptoms may appear a few minutes or hours after contact with the object or irritating substance, or up to 6 days in the case of allergic dermatitis.

In addition, according to the agent responsible for the reaction, symptoms may appear on different parts of the body, such as on the face, in case of allergy to makeup, or in the ear in case of allergy to perfume or jewelry.

Types of contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis can be classified into two main types:

Allergic dermatitis

Allergic dermatitis is caused by a hypersensitivity reaction to certain allergens and is usually discovered in childhood. Symptoms usually appear around 48 to 72 days after exposure to the causative agent, and swelling, redness, or small blisters may appear on the skin.

The regions of the body commonly affected by allergic dermatitis include the scalp, face, eyelids, neck, armpits, trunk, hands and feet, depending on the substance causing the reaction.

Irritant dermatitis

Irritant dermatitis is usually caused by a direct toxic effect on the skin by mechanical, physical, or chemical irritants that affect the skin's protective barrier function, causing a non-allergic inflammatory reaction. Symptoms may appear after immediate contact with the irritant or after months of chronic contact with the substance.

The body regions most affected by this type of dermatitis are the hands and forearms, but it can also occur in any area of ​​the skin that comes in contact with the irritating substance, and symptoms such as pain, burning sensation may occur. and, to a lesser extent, itchy skin.

Irritating substances that can cause this type of dermatitis include some cosmetic products, alcohol, acetone, latex, wool, or hygiene and cleaning products such as soaps, detergents, antibacterials, disinfectants or perfumes, for example.

How to confirm the diagnosis

The diagnosis of contact dermatitis is made by the dermatologist by evaluating the signs and symptoms presented by the person. In addition, when the person does not know which substance is responsible for the appearance of signs and symptoms, the doctor may recommend performing an allergy test to identify the cause of the contact allergy. Understand how the allergy test is done.

Possible causes

The main causes of contact dermatitis are:

  • Cosmetics and perfumes;
  • Plants;
  • Ointments;
  • Paints, latex and plastic resins;
  • Additives, preservatives or food coloring;
  • Soap, detergent and other cleaning products;
  • Solvents;
  • Dust;
  • Jewelry;
  • Stool or urine.

In addition, contact dermatitis can also be caused by feces or urine, and this cause is mainly related to babies, as the baby spends more time in contact with these products, causing skin irritation. Learn more about contact dermatitis in babies.

How the treatment is done

To relieve the symptoms of dermatitis and prevent them from returning, it is important that the person avoids contact with the substance responsible for the symptoms, as it is recommended that the place be washed with plenty of cold water and neutral soap. In addition, it is important that the dermatologist's guidelines are followed so that it is possible to combat contact dermatitis more effectively.

Treatment time may vary according to the intensity of symptoms, cause and type of dermatitis, that is, whether irritating or allergic, and may vary between days and weeks.

Ointments for contact dermatitis

Ointments or lotions with antihistamines or corticosteroids are the most suitable for the treatment of this type of allergy, with hydrocortisone being the most suitable for the face. When the skin is very dry, the use of ointments is more recommended, but when the skin is more humid, creams or lotions may be indicated. See a list of the main ointments used for the most common skin conditions.

Home treatment

A good home treatment for contact dermatitis is to wash the affected area with cold plantain tea due to its natural antihistamine properties. To make the tea, just add 30 grams of plantain leaves to a liter of boiling water, cover and let it cool.Then strain and wash the area with this tea 2 to 3 times a day. Check out other home remedies options to relieve dermatitis.

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