The skin may become inflamed because of contact with a variety of materials. Materials to which the patient is allergic or that are particularly irritating can induce an inflammatory response in the skin. Skin gradually acquires allergic sensitivity, and this becomes more common with aging. Aging changes in the skin also include thinning, which results in a more fragile and a less protected skin. These changes increase the susceptibility to irritants in elderly patients.
Irritant dermatitis is more common than allergic dermatitis. Both the home and the workplace are host to an increasing number of chemical agents with irritant potential. New agents should be introduced into the home or workplace cautiously to allow the identifi- cation of possible irritants that can cause dermatitis. When the use of irritant compounds is necessary, some protection can be afforded by wearing rubber gloves.
Allergic contact dermatitis is highly specific for each individual and each compound. Almost everything we contact can cause a skin rash. The only practical management is avoidance.
Important Points in Treatment
When a contact dermatitis skin rash occurs, keep the area clean and dry and allow the dermatitis to resolve on its own. Occasionally a steroid cream is needed to reduce the skin inflammation and promote healing.
For recurrent or persistent dermatitis, your physician may refer you to a dermatologist for special testing to attempt to identify the offending compound.
Notify Our Office If ...
- You have sudden onset of a skin rash that fails to subside in a week.