Contact dermatitis is a condition affecting the skin, when it comes in contact with any substance that causes allergy. This might lead to itching, and red rashes appear on the skin.
Depending upon the allergen, the skin reaction may also vary. Either the reaction occurs with a single exposure or after multiple exposures. Few sources that can create allergic response to skin are dyes, cosmetics, adhesives, few metals, detergents, soaps, cleaners, waxes and chemicals. Contact with these substances can wear down the oily, protective layer of the skin causing irritation and then leads to contact dermatitis. Contact dermatitis most commonly occurs among people working in chemical industries.
- Irritant Contact Dermatitis
This is the most common types of all dermatitis. Irritant dermatitis occurs quickly when the skin touches an irritating chemical. The symptoms occurs hard when the irritants are rubbed over the surface or when it comes in contact with heat. These chemicals can pass through skin barrier enters the blood stream, and causes inflammatory changes over the skin.
Also, if the irritants come in contact with open wound, it’s much easier for the inflammatory response in the blood.
- Allergic Contact Dermatitis
Allergic contact dermatitis is caused due to contact with any allergen and gets affected to immune system and causes skin reaction. This causes sensitization to the skin.
When the skin comes in contact with allergen over and over, the immune system recognizes the chemical; the symptom appears suddenly or may be after several days.
- Contact Urticaria
Contact urticaria commonly known as hives is a less common form of dermatitis. After contact with the irritating substance, the skin suddenly flares up and causes redness. It appears for a short time and not long lasting.
Hives are generally rare, but can happen as a result of anaphylactic reaction, which can cause other symptoms like swelling in the throat, chest tightness and other symptoms. This is condition needs medical care.
What causes contact dermatitis?
Irritant contact dermatitis nay develop due to contact with substances like:
• Metals: Metals are a common source of allergy. Nickel allergy is common among the metal allergies. Nickel is found in jwellery, buttons, belt buckles, coins etc. It can also be found in cell phones, white gold etc.
o Cobalt is another metal which causes irritant contact dermatitis. Cobalt is most commonly used in hair dyes and antiperspirants.
o Chromium irritation is also commonly seen with people who deal with paints, cement, and leather products.
• Fragrances: Fragrances can trigger the irritation especially in people who are suffering from atopic dermatitis. These are used in cosmetics, flavoring agents, perfumes etc.
• Antibacterial Ointments: Few antibacterial ointments often used for healing wounds can lead to allergic dermatitis.
• Photo contact Dermatitis: This condition is very less common. It happens when the active ingredients in skin, gets exposed to sun and causes irritation.
• Few other toxic substances that can cause irritation to skin include: Bleach, Kerosene, Detergents, Pepper spray, Drain cleaners, Battery acid.
What are the symptoms of Contact Dermatitis?
The symptoms of Contact dermatitis depend on how sensitive the skin is to the allergen.
Symptoms of Allergic contact dermatitis
• Hives on the skin
• Dry, Scaly and Flaky skin
• Redness in the skin
• Sometimes skin has leathery or darkened texture
• Photo sensitive skin
• Severe itching over the skin
• Swelling may be seen in eyes, faces or groin.
Symptoms of Irritant contact dermatitis
• Cracked appearance of the skin due to extreme dryness
• Swelling in the skin
• Stiffness or tightness in the skin
• Open sores on the skin
• Ulcerations on the skin
How to prevent contact dermatitis?
To avoid contact dermatitis,
• Avoid direct contact with substances that causes irritation on the skin.
• Immediately wash the area in contact with the substance.
• To avoid irritant contact dermatitis,
• Protect the area in contact with allergens with gloves or masks.
• Wash the area and apply petroleum jelly to protect the skin
• Avoid direct contact with irritants
• Use mild soaps for daily use
• Keep the hands and body moist; apply hand creams and lotions frequently
Patch testing is a very important method to diagnose allergies. The chemical which causes irritation is selected, and patches or adhesive strips are applied over the back. This patch is left for 48hours undisturbed. After 48hours, the doctor removes the patch and screen for skin reaction. Again after 2 days, doctors look for any inflammatory changes. If there are changes in the skin, the allergy to that particular chemical is confirmed.
Ayurveda believes, the cause of dermatitis as unwholesome food and lifestyle which leads to disturbances in the digestion that aggravates the pitta dosha.. The undigested food i.e. ama travel sin the blood and gets accumulated to body tissues, which causes infection in deep level and causes dermatitis. Pitta enters the skin and manifest in the form of red rashes, and heating all over the body
Ayurvedic treatments are beneficial in treating contact dermatitis along with proper medications, strict diet and healthy life style changes.
• Vegetables: Green leafy vegetables- Spinach, Moringa, Tomatoes, Pumpkin, Carrot, white pumpkins, asparagus, bitter gourd, Beetroot, green peas, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. Legumes, such as split peas, lentils, black beans, and baked beans.
• Grains: Whole grains, such as barley, bran flakes, oatmeal, and brown rice
• Fruits: Fruits, such as raspberries, pears, apples, bananas and pomegranate, orange, dates
• Spices: Coriander, Ginger, Garlic, Pepper, Methi seeds
• Nuts: Almonds, cashews, raisins, walnuts, Flax seeds, Pistachios
• Regular intake of ghee in the diet
• Follow a healthy fibre rich diet and hydrate the body
• Increase the consumption of water and other liquids like buttermilk and coconut water.