Proper Care for this Skin Condition
Contact dermatitis is a medical term referring to things the skin encounters
that causes it to become red and inflamed. Such things may
include soap, cosmetics, jewelry, and certain plants. The rash that occurs
is not contagious, and in most cases resolves within a few days to a
couple of weeks. Other signs of contact dermatitis may include bumpy or
dry skin. Only the area of skin exposed to the offending agent is affected.
There are two categories of contact dermatitis: allergic contact dermatitis
and irritant contact dermatitis. Irritant contact dermatitis is more common,
and results from contact with an irritating substance, such as soap
or cosmetics. Bleach and strong acids may be particularly irritating, as
these substances may remove the skin’s protective barrier. Allergic contact
dermatitis may occur in response to exposure to an allergen, such as
rubber, perfume, and hair dyes.
The best treatment for contact dermatitis is to identify the irritating
agent and then discontinue contact with that agent. Creams containing
hydrocortisone applied topically may help alleviate the redness and itching.
A wet dressing also may be applied to the affected area. Oral steroids
and antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), hydroxyzine
(Atarax), and cetirizine (Zyrtec), may be required for more severe reactions.