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Allergic Contact Dermatitis

Allergic Contact Dermatitis is a skin condition/reaction that occurs as a response to contact with a particular substances. There are two types of contact dermatitis; Allergic Contact Dermatitis (ACD) and Irritant Contact Dermatitis (ICD). It is important to mention the two as they have the same symptomss. You may refer to the condition as a rash but your doctor will call it dermatitis. This is because that is what it is or rather, that is what is its medical term. The symptoms occur as a result of coming into contact with a substance that triggers allergic reactions on your skin or simply when the protective layer of your skin becomes damaged.

Normally, allergic contact dermatitis is only confirmed if your immune system is involved. In this case, when you touch a particular substance, your body assumes that it is under attack and begins to fight back the source of danger. It immediately sends antibodies to fight the enemy and this is basically the reason behind the rash and all the other symptoms. The intense chain of reaction leads to the release of chemicals in the bodies, in this case, histamines. When this happens, you begin to experience itching, redness, dryness and any other symptom that occurs as a result. This is why this particular type of irritant contact dermatitis is termed as Allergic Contact Dermatitis.

What is the Difference between Allergic Contact Dermatitis and Irritant Contact Dermatitis You may present to your doctor symptoms that directly point at what you think is, Allergic contact dermatitis. However, you will be surprised when your physician tells you that it isn't. It may be confusing but irritant contact dermatitis may portray the same symptoms as allergic contact dermatitis. The only difference is the cause of the rash along all the other symptoms. If what you thought you were suffering from is disqualified by the doctor and termed as IRD, it means that your immune system isn't responsible for the symptoms. In this case, you probably came into contact with a substance that took away the oils on the surface of the skin hence caused irritation. The oils on your skin play an important role in protecting your skin. When this occurs, your skin becomes dry hence developing a rash as a result of the irritation. The longer the substance stays on your skin the worse the irritation becomes. People who suffer from eczema are prone to this kind of skin irritation. Rashes on ICD patients are more painful and less itchy compared to the ones on ACD.

Triggers of Allergic Contact Dermatitis Did you know that an allergic reaction does not normally occur on your first encounter with the substance? No, it doesn't. However, the first contact sensitizes your skin. If you experience your first allergic reaction to a particular substance, it simply means that you have come into contact with it at least once before but you never realized it.

Different people experience allergic reactions to different things. What you're allergic to is not may not create a similar effect to another person. However, there are particular substances that are known to trigger Allergic Dermatitis. So you may want to steer clear from them.

  • (a) Latex Rubber- this is the main cause of this skin condition
  • (b) hair dyes and/or straighteners
  • (c) Fragrances in lotions, soaps, shampoos, cosmetic products and shampoos
  • (d) Certain skin medications
  • (e) Poison ivy, poison sumac and poison oak
  • (f) Leather- chemicals used when tanning leather
  • (g) Peels of citrus fruits
  • (h) Nickel, gold or any metal on jewelry
Symptoms There are common reactions that most people experience immediately allergic contact dermatitis occurs. These include;
  • (a) Red irritated skin
  • (b) Swelling
  • (c) Itching
  • (d) Sensitive skin
  • (e) Blisters or bumps that may be filled with clear fluid

Treatment of Allergic Contact Dermatitis

It is common for people who have an experience with ACD to experience it for the rest of their lives. In this case, it is advisable not to touch whatever is known to cause your reaction. About 80% of the time, patients are aware of the specific substances that they are particularly allergic to. Detecting and avoiding the substances is highly advisable.

When a reaction on your skin occurs, or when you accidentally come into contact with the substance, wash the area with mild soap and cold water immediately. This may help to wash off the substance from the surface of your skin hence reducing the allergic reaction. You may also use a damp cloth especially if you have touched the substance with both hands.

If the area is inflamed, one may apply skin care creams that contain corticosteroids. This ingredient is highly effective in reducing inflammation. Calamine lotion and cool oat baths also offer great relief to itching. Over the counter medicine such as diphenhydramine offers great relief especially to night time itching. This is an oral medication and is commonly prescribed by doctors.

If your case is severe, you may be treated with systemic corticosteroids which are administered gradually. The dosage may be spread out over a period of 12-20 days. Along with the corticosteroids, creams such as tacrolimus ointment and pimecrolimus cream may be used.

If your skin is damaged as a result of the reaction, it is advisable to use a moisturizer three times a day in order to restore the moisture as well as rebuild the protective layer of the skin. Using an antihistamine without the authorization of a doctor is highly discouraged. This is because it may cause skin irritation or lead to a further allergic reaction on the area which may make the situation worse.

As much as home and over the counter remedies are cheap and quick, there comes a time when you have to book an appointment to see your doctor. Call in immediately if the rash in painful or if the area still isn't healed after a few days. In this case, the doctor may ask you some questions to help figure out what could be causing the problem. After a proper diagnosis, the doctor may prescribe an antihistamine, steroid pills or an ointment.

*Thankyou for this opportunity. I hope the article is satisfactorry enough for you. If not, PLEASE feel free to send it back for revision and I shall give it my undivided attention.*

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