Contact dermatitis is one of the most common skin conditions, affecting people of all backgrounds. It develops when an allergen or irritant comes in contact with your skin and causes an inflammatory reaction.
Recognizing the symptoms is a good way to narrow down possible causes of your symptoms if you suspect that you may have contact dermatitis. Keep in mind that seeing a specialist is the only way to know for sure.
What is contact dermatitis?
In simple terms, contact dermatitis refers to a type of skin rash that develops when your skin comes in contact with chemicals or substances that trigger an irritant, or allergic reactions. We divide contact dermatitis into two types:
Irritant contact dermatitis
This is by far the most common form of contact dermatitis, accounting for more than 80% of cases. Irritant contact dermatitis occurs following the exposure of irritants to susceptible skin.
Allergic contact dermatitis
Sometimes the skin becomes sensitized to an allergen. When this happens, you may develop a rash after coming into contact with specific allergens. Reactions may be immediate or delayed.
Common irritant dermatitis triggers
Substances that irritate the skin can vary widely from person to person. However, certain chemicals are more likely to cause problems for patients with irritant contact dermatitis than others. These are:
- Household cleaners
- Fabric dryer sheets
- Facial creams
Common allergic contact dermatitis triggers
Allergens affect each person differently, and not everyone is allergic to the same substances. Some of the most common triggers for allergic contact dermatitis are:
- Hair dye
- Clothing dyes
Symptoms of contact dermatitis
Contact dermatitis symptoms vary greatly and can range from mild to severe enough to interfere with daily life. Here are some telltale signs of contact dermatitis:
- Itchy skin
- Reddening of the skin
- Patches of dry, scaly skin
- Hives (urticaria)
- Cracked skin
- Burning sensations
In severe cases, patients may experience swelling of the eyes, lips and face. This can be a life-threatening reaction, so call 911 immediately if you experience swelling of the face or trouble breathing.
Contact dermatitis can be difficult to distinguish from other types of rashes. Proper diagnosis requires evaluation by a trained specialist. When you visit allergy and immunology specialist Dr. Ulrike Ziegner here at Riviera Allergy Medical Center, you can rest assured that she and our team will get to the root of your symptoms and create an appropriate treatment plan.
If you’re struggling with unexplained rashes, call our Redondo Beach, California, office at 310-792-9050 to book an appointment with Dr. Ziegner. Relief is just a phone call away. You can also send a message to Dr. Ziegner and the team here on our website.