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Identifying Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a general term for a rash on the skin that is caused by a material that is toxic, irritating, or causes an allergic reaction. The redness comes from an inflammation of the outer layers of the skin, generally taking days to go away on its own. There is more than one kind, however, but identifying contact dermatitis, as well as preventing or treating it, is definitely possible.

Irritant contact dermatitis is caused by exposure to a universally toxic or irritating substance. An irritant is defined as something that can cause pain or swelling in biological tissue. Irritants are not always avoidable, however many are labeled so that you can use caution in their presence. Some common causes of irritant contact dermatitis are latex and cosmetics. Allergic contact dermatitis stems from coming in contact with a material that your skin is allergic to. There are common allergens, so knowledge and avoidance of these is suggested, however knowing what you are allergic to personally can be of major assistance in avoiding allergic contact dermatitis. Allergens well known to cause contact dermatitis are gold and formaldehyde. Photocontact dermatitis is a specialized form of irritant contact dermatitis where the material in question is not harmful, or less so, without exposure to ultraviolet light; because of this, the photocontact variety of contact dermatitis usually appears on areas of the skin open to the sun.

Treatment for the symptoms of contact dermatitis on your own starts with gently washing the area with cool water and soap, so that you are rid of the irritant or allergen that caused the problem. If soap and water are not sufficient to counteract the substance, vinegar or lemon juice may help. Be sure not to scratch the effected areas, as this can open your skin to further infections. Antihistamines and lotions can help to reduce the itching caused by contact dermatitis, and if there is any blistering then apply a cold compress to the area for half an hour in the morning, noon, and night. In more acute cases of contact dermatitis, prescription strength hydrocortisone cream may be administered, however over the counter varieties can also be useful. If this proves ineffective, particularly if symptoms last more than three days or becomes too painful, medical treatment for contact dermatitis can include more powerful lotions, such as corticosteroids.

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