Contact dermatitis

It is an inflammation of the skin that is caused by direct contact with an irritant.

What causes it?

The most frequent cause is irritants. These may be chemical compounds such as soaps, detergents or solvents; metals such as nickel, chrome, cobalt or mercury, among others; medications applied topically, such as local anaesthesias; dyes and hair products, cosmetics, clothing materials, adhesives or surgical tape, perfumes, fragrances, rubber materials, industrial plastics, etc.

What are the symptoms?

Contact dermatitis is characterised by itching in the areas of irritation and skin rash. Subsequently, reddening occurs with small vesicles that tend to dry up, forming a scab, which finally flakes off.
When the eczema persists, small cracks occur in the skin and it swells.

How is it diagnosed?

Diagnosis is based on direct clinical assessment of the area affected, and determination of the history of exposure to an irritant. In cases of doubt, epicutaneous patch tests may be conducted to specify the cause of the allergen responsible for the allergic reaction.

How is it treated?

Mainly by avoiding the irritant or allergen once identified and by using barrier methods, such as protective gloves or other measures such as sprays.
Acute episodes are treated with topical corticosteroids or, in serious cases, systemic corticosteroids.
All measures should be maximised to avoid superinfection of the skin.