The term contact dermatitis or eczema is used to describe a skin inflammation that is caused by contact with external agents. The skin becomes red, scaly, and itchy, and in more severe cases, it can develop blisters, the rupture of which, leaves a liquid surface that can be easily contaminated.
When the skin continues to be irritated for long periods of time, it becomes thick, scaly, and rough. The part of the body that is affected most by contact dermatitis is the hands.
This condition is not contagious.
It is caused by the direct harmful effect of certain agents on the outer skin layer, and no allergic mechanism is involved.
It is caused by various substances in the environment, when coming in contact with the skin and causing sensitization to a person (previous sensitization of a predisposed person to an allergen of various antigen strength is required).
Factors that cause primary toxic dermatitis are the following:
• Water, sweat, humid environment
• Skin cleansers, cosmetics
• Alkaline substances
• Strong acids
• Detergents and other household cleaners
• Organic solvents
• Citrus fruits and their juices
• Mechanical factors
• Substances that a person comes in contact during gardening
• Biological substances
Factors that cause allergic contact dermatitis are the following:
• Metals (nickel, chromium, cobalt)
• Rubber products
• Plastic products, glues
• Preservatives, antimicrobials
• Drugs (neomycin, local anesthetics)
• Cosmetics (perfumes, preservatives, excipients)
• Dyes (textile, leather, hair)
• Plants, timber
• Avoid contact with irritants (soaps, detergents, solvents, paints, shoe polishes, powders, dusts, vegetables, fruit juices, etc.), in order not to exacerbate the disease
• Use protective gloves (and protective clothing, in general)
Topical corticosteroids are the cornerstone of the treatment management of irritative and allergic dermatitis, while antihistamines can also be administered. Moreover, the cause should be identified, in order for the factor that is responsible to be treated by taking the required precautionary measures, which can contribute decisively to treating this condition.