Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis refers to a reaction of the skin to something that comes into contact with the skin.  When a skin rash occurs due to such exposure, it is termed a contact dermatitis. There are two types of contact dermatitis: irritant contact dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis.

Irritant contact dermatitis is what happens when your skin is exposed to multiple irritating chemicals, like excessive hand washing, dry skin with sweat in the winter, over scrubbing of the skin or using a new product with an ingredient that causes inflammation.

Allergic contact dermatitis is caused by a true allergic reaction to a specific chemical.  Sometimes it is a chemical in something applied to the skin ( like a fragrance or a preservative in a skin cream or cleanser) and sometimes it comes from something that causes periodic contact (like nickel in jewelry, hair dye or rubber).

Contact dermatitis looks like eczema- it is usually dry, red and scaly itchy. It may be obvious what is causing it but usually, it isn’t, requiring some detective work to identify what the culprit it.

The most important factor in the treatment of contact dermatitis is the identification of the offending agent and avoiding contact with that agent, or irritating substances.  To determine the cause of the allergy, we can apply the True Test allergy patch tests which will test you to more than 30 of the most common allergens including preservatives that are in creams, rubber, adhesives, hair dye, and more.

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