Types of Contact Dermatitis – Irritant & Allergic

Types of Contact Dermatitis – Irritant & Allergic
Types of Contact Dermatitis – Irritant & Allergic
Types of Contact Dermatitis – Irritant & Allergic
Contact Dermatitis is a red itchy rash or inflammation of the skin caused by certain substances that people come into contact with on a daily basis. The inflammation or rash isn’t contagious or life threatening but it can cause discomfort.

There are two main types of Contact Dermatitis, Irritant Dermatitis and Allergic Dermatitis.

What is Irritant Dermatitis?

Irritant Dermatitis is the most common type and occurs when a person’s skin comes into contact with common, everyday substances such as soaps, detergents, fabric softeners and other chemicals. Irritation and inflammation occurs when these substances damage the surface of the skin faster than the skin is able to repair it. The substances remove oils and moisture from the outer layer of the skin which allows the substances or chemicals to penetrate the skin more deeply.

Irritant Dermatitis can affect anyone who comes into contact with substances that have high amount of chemicals and repeated exposure will more than likely increase the chances of Irritant Dermatitis. Cleaners, hairdressers or food handlers are the occupations most affected by Irritant Dermatitis given that they use substances and chemicals on a daily basis.

Substances which can cause Irritant Dermatitis include:

  • Cement
  • Hair Dyes
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Shampoo

What is Allergic Dermatitis?

Allergic Dermatitis is another form of Contact Dermatitis. This form of the condition occurs when a person has an allergic reaction to a certain substance or chemical and as a result suffers from a rash, itchy, cracked or even bleeding skin. An allergic reaction can arise a few hours after first use of the substance and subside a few days afterwards providing the skin is no longer exposed to the substance. In some cases you may not suffer a reaction to a substance at first use however as time goes on and you use the substance more regularly, your skin may become more sensitive to the substance.

Substances which can cause Allergic Dermatitis include:

  • Fabrics and clothing
  • Perfumes, cosmetics, soaps and moisturisers
  • Shaving lotions
  • Rubber or latex gloves

Symptoms of Contact Dermatitis

Symptoms of Contact Dermatitis vary depending on which type of Dermatitis it is.

  • Severe itching is common symptom for both. Irritant Dermatitis tends to be more painful than itchy. Itching tends to be more severe in Allergic Dermatitis.
  • A red scaly rash is the most common reaction. For Irritant Dermatitis the red rash could appear as soon as the skin comes into contact with the substance, however with Allergic Dermatitis the rash could appear anything from a few hours to a day or two after being exposed to the substance.

Prevention and Treatment

  • See your GP to get a diagnosis to find the cause for the Dermatitis.
  • Once the cause has been found avoid using the substance or chemical.
  • Wearing protective clothing can help.
  • Barrier creams can help to limit contact with irritants and allergens.
  • Avoid itching the affected area which will prevent further infections and inflammation to occur.
  • Your GP or Dermatology expect can prescribe you creams, ointments, antihistamines and in some cases oral medication to relieve the itching and inflammation and help the damaged skin to heal.

Roberts Jackson Solicitors are experts in dealing with cases where people have developed a condition at work where their skin has been exposed to substances which have caused a reaction. It may be possible to make a claim for work place Dermatitis. We provide a No Win No Fee service and you will not have to contribute to any of the costs of the case unless we are successful (any fees incurred are deducted from the compensation award).

If you would like more information or want to discuss your claim in more detail you can call us on 0800 001 446 or alternatively fill in the call back box found on the right hand side of the page and one of our advisors will call you back at a convenient time for you.

Sources:
http://www.dermnetnz.org/dermatitis/contact-irritant.html
http://www.dermnetnz.org/dermatitis/contact-allergy.html
http://www.medicinenet.com/contact_dermatitis/article.htm
http://www.webmd.boots.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/guide/contact-dermatitis
http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/contact-dermatitis/overview.html