Top 10 Causes of Contact Dermatitis and How to Avoide Getting It


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Article on Dermatitis

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Introduction

Dermatitis is a common skin disorder that can result from coming in contact with chemicals or materials to which the skin has an allergic reaction. We encounter chemicals almost continuously during any day in our lives. Mostly we do not react to them, however, there are some very common substances that can cause contact dermatitis.

This article looks at some of the most common causes of contact dermatitis and looks specifically at dermatitis resulting from using skin and personal care products.

Dermatitis

 

 

Top 10 Causes of Contact Dermatitis

Dermatitis comes in many forms. One of the most common causes of dermatitis is when skin comes in contact with an allergen. An allergen is a substance that causes an allergic reaction.

These reactions range from mild, that is, a slight reddening of the skin for example, to very severe and potentially life threatening allergic reactions - you may remember news reports of severe allergic reactions experienced by children to peanuts, for example.

A simple definition of contact dermatitis is: an allergic reaction resulting from skin contact to an allergen.

What the Medical Scientists Tell Us

The Mayo Clinic lists the top 13 causes of contact dermatitis as follows:

  1. Strong detergents or soaps
  2. Skin cleaning products
  3. Cosmetics or makeup
  4. Deodorant
  5. Clothing or shoes
  6. Household cleaning products
  7. Formaldehyde and other chemicals
  8. Rubber or latex
  9. Metals, such as nickel
  10. Jewellery
  11. Perfume or fragrances
  12. Weeds and plants, such as poison ivy or poison oak
  13. Medicinal lotions, such as antihistamines, antibiotics or antiseptics

There are of course many other substances you might be allergic to. In fact, one can be allergic to almost anything.

Image showing skin reaction to an allergenThis picture shows a skin inflammation (dermatitis) caused by contact with a material that causes an allergic reaction in this person. Contact dermatitis is a relatively common condition, and can be caused by many substances ( U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2008).

 

So let’s focus on some of the most common. Personal care products including skin care, soaps, and cosmetics, are the top 3 causes of contact dermatitis, as outlined by the Mayo Clinic above.

 

Measures you can take to avoid an allergic reaction

Let’s consider products you might use on your face. Because your face is revealed to the public, so to speak, you get very anxious if you break out after applying a cream or some make-up or another product.

A great way to test whether or not you have an allergy to a new product you’ve purchased is to rub it onto the inside of your forearm. If you have an allergy to any of the ingredients in the product, it will usually show on the sensitive skin of the forearm, sometimes even within minutes.

If redness or itching results, do not use the product. It is probable that you are allergic to one or more of the ingredients in the product and if you were to put it on your face, you may have a very bad reaction.

Taking this one step further, the Skin Patch Test is a good way to make relatively certain that you do not have an allergy to a new product you’ve purchased. Use a small amount of the product, put it onto a band-aid and stick the band-aid with the product on the cotton pad onto your forearm for 24 hours. Then after this time, remove the band-aid and look for redness/irritation of the covered skin. (For a full description of how to do a Skin Patch Test, please read our article called "Skin Patch Test".)

If you do not have any redness or irritation, you can be relatively sure that you do not have an allergy to any of the ingredients contained in the product you’ve tested.

These tests are a way that you can safeguard yourself against an unwanted surprise of an allergic reaction to your newly purchased personal care and cosmetic products and avoid getting contact dermatitis.

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