Contact Dermatitis

Overview of Contact Dermatitis

Contact Dermatitis Meaning in Urdu

یہ ایک جِلدی بیماری ہے جو کہ  الرجک ری ایکشن کی وجہ سے لاحق ہوتی ہے۔ اس بیماری کی وجہ سے جِلد پر خارش زدہ ریش نمودار ہو جاتا ہے۔ یہ ریش متعدی تو نہیں ہوتا مگر اس کی وجہ سے کافی بے چینی کا سامنا کرنا پڑ سکتا ہے۔ بہت ساری اشیاء جیسا کہ کاسمیٹکس، پرفیومز، جیولری، اور پودوں کی وجہ سے جِلد کا یہ طبی مسئلہ لاحق ہو سکتا ہے۔ اس بیماری کی وجہ سے کئی دفعہ چھالوں، جلن، اور سوزش کا بھی سامنا کرنا پڑتا ہے۔ اگر اس طبی علامت کی وجہ بننے والی اشیاء سے دور رہا جائے تو دو سے چار ہفتوں تک اس سے نجات حاصل کی جا سکتی ہے۔

Contact Dermatitis Definition:

Contact dermatitis belongs to a group of skin conditions known as Exogenous Eczema. It is a type of skin inflammation that occurs when the skin comes in contact with a substance that triggers an allergic or irritant reaction. It can cause redness, itching, swelling, and blisters in the affected area. For instance, the rash can appear down a leg that came into contact with poison ivy. After exposure, the rash may appear minutes to hours later and last for two to four weeks.

Prevalence of Contact Dermatitis:

Research estimates that around 15-20% of the global population experience contact dermatitis at some point in their lives. However, the prevalence can be higher in a specific population, such as healthcare workers or individuals with atopic dermatitis, and vary depending on factors such as age, sex, and occupation. 

In Pakistan, almost 20% of the population get affected by contact dermatitis, while the ratio is higher in females than males.

Signs and Symptoms of Contact Dermatitis

The symptoms of contact dermatitis may vary depending on the cause and severity of the reaction. Some common symptoms include:

  • Redness: The skin may become red or discolored in the affected area.
  • Itching: The skin may be itchy or uncomfortable.
  • Burning or stinging: The skin may feel burning or stinging, especially if the reaction is severe.
  • Swelling: The affected area may become swollen or puffy.
  • Blistering: The skin may develop small blisters or bumps filled with fluid.
  • Dry, scaly, or cracked skin: The skin may become dry or scaly if the reaction is chronic.
  • Crusting or oozing: The skin may crust over or ooze in severe cases.

These symptoms may appear within a few hours or days of coming into contact with the irritant or allergen and may persist for several weeks or months if the reaction is chronic.

Types of Contact Dermatitis

There are two main types of contact dermatitis:

  1. Allergic Contact Dermatitis occurs when the body's immune system reacts to a substance as if it were harmful, even though it may not be. It happens due to previous exposure to the substance, which sensitizes the immune system to it. Some common triggers of allergic contact dermatitis include cosmetics, cleaning agents, poison ivy, certain metals (such as nickel and rubber), and fragrances.
  2. Irritant Contact Dermatitis occurs when the skin gets exposed to a substance that directly damages the skin's surface. Irritants can include chemicals, soaps, detergents, and even water. Unlike allergic contact dermatitis, which can require sensitization, irritant contact dermatitis can occur with first-time exposure to a substance.

Causes of Contact Dermatitis

The specific causes of contact dermatitis can vary depending on the individual and the nature of the exposure, but some common causes include:

  1. Irritants: Exposure to harsh chemicals or irritating substances, such as soaps, detergents, solvents, and cleaning agents.
  2. Allergens: Exposure to substances that can trigger an allergic reaction, such as poison ivy, nickel, latex, cosmetics, and fragrances.
  3. Genetics: Some people may have a genetic predisposition to developing contact dermatitis, making them more susceptible to the condition.
  4. Occupational Exposure: People who work in specific industries, such as healthcare, food service, and construction, may be at higher risk of developing contact dermatitis due to their exposure to irritants and allergens in their work environment.
  5. Environmental Factors: Other factors that can contribute to contact dermatitis include changes in the weather, stress, and certain medical conditions or medications that can make the skin more sensitive.

Risk Factors of Contact Dermatitis

The risk factors for contact dermatitis include:

  • Exposure to irritants: Repeated or prolonged exposure to irritants such as solvents, soaps, detergents, and other chemicals can cause contact dermatitis.
  • Exposure to allergens: Allergic contact dermatitis occurs when the skin comes into contact with a substance the body is allergic to, such as nickel, rubber, fragrances, or certain preservatives.
  • Occupational exposure: People who work in certain occupations, such as hairdressers, healthcare workers, and construction workers, are at increased risk of developing contact dermatitis due to their exposure to irritants and allergens.
  • Genetic factors: Some people may be more susceptible to contact dermatitis due to genetic factors that affect the skin's barrier function.
  • Age: Contact dermatitis can occur at any age, but it is more common in adults than children.
  • Pre-existing skin conditions: People with pre-existing skin conditions, such as eczema or psoriasis, are more likely to develop contact dermatitis.
  • Gender: Women are more likely to develop contact dermatitis than men.

Possible Complications of Contact Dermatitis:

Complications of contact dermatitis can vary depending on the severity of the reaction and the area of the body affected. Here are some possible complications:

  • Infection: Bacteria or fungi can enter the skin through small breaks caused by scratching or blisters. It can lead to bacterial or fungal infections, and you may require antibiotics or antifungal medication.
  • Chronic dermatitis: Repeated exposure to the irritant or allergen can cause chronic dermatitis, a long-term, recurring condition that may be more difficult to treat.
  • Scarring: In severe cases, contact dermatitis can cause scarring, especially if blisters are scratched or burst.
  • Skin discoloration: The affected skin may become discolored, which can be permanent in some cases.
  • Allergic reactions: Some people may develop a severe allergic reaction to the irritant or allergen, leading to anaphylaxis, a life-threatening condition.
  • Emotional distress: Chronic contact dermatitis can significantly impact a person’s quality of life, causing emotional distress and affecting their work or social activities.



By following these tips, people can prevent contact dermatitis from developing on the skin:

  • Wear gloves: If you're working with chemicals, detergents, or other irritants, always wear gloves to protect your hands. Be sure to use gloves made of an appropriate material for the substance you're working with.
  • Use protective clothing: If you're working with irritants, wear protective clothing to minimize skin exposure. Covering your skin with long sleeves and pants can help reduce the amount of contact with the irritant.
  • Avoid irritants: Try to avoid contact with irritants that are known to cause contact dermatitis. Common irritants include certain soaps, detergents, solvents, and metals like nickel.
  • Be careful with jewelry: Some metals, such as nickel, can cause contact dermatitis. If you're sensitive to certain metals, avoid wearing jewelry made from them.
  • Use gentle skin care products: Choose mild, fragrance-free skincare products, including soaps and moisturizers. Avoid using harsh products that contain alcohol or other irritants.
  • Moisturize regularly: Keeping your skin well-moisturized can help prevent dryness, which can make contact dermatitis worse. Apply a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic moisturizer after bathing and throughout the day as needed.
  • Seek medical attention: If you develop a rash or other skin irritation that doesn't go away, consult your doctor. 


Here are the steps that are typically taken to diagnose contact dermatitis:

Medical history: Your healthcare professional will ask you questions about your symptoms, including when they started, what they look like, and what might have caused them. They will also ask about any allergies you have, any medications you are taking, and any other medical conditions you have.

Physical exam: Your healthcare professional will examine the affected area of the skin, looking for signs of inflammation, such as redness, swelling, and blisters. They may also examine other areas of your skin to see if the rash has spread.

Patch testing: If the cause of your contact dermatitis is not immediately obvious, your healthcare professional may recommend patch testing. This involves placing small amounts of common allergens on your skin and covering them with patches. After 48 hours, the patches are removed, and the healthcare professional will look for signs of an allergic reaction.

Biopsy: In rare cases, a skin biopsy may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis of contact dermatitis. During a skin biopsy, a small sample of skin is removed and examined under a microscope to confirm whether eczema or dermatitis is present or a different skin condition caused the rash. 

If contact dermatitis is diagnosed, your healthcare professional will recommend treatment options based on the severity of your symptoms and the cause of the condition.

Treatment of Contact Dermatitis | When to Consult a Doctor

The treatment for contact dermatitis depends on the severity of the condition and the underlying cause. Some treatment options include: 

  • Avoiding the irritant or allergen: The first step in treating contact dermatitis is identifying and avoiding the substance that caused the reaction.
  • Topical corticosteroids: If the rash is severe or widespread, your doctor may prescribe a topical corticosteroid to reduce inflammation and itching. These are available in different strengths and forms, such as creams, ointments, and lotions.
  • Oral antihistamines: An oral antihistamine can help relieve the itching or discomfort associated with contact dermatitis.
  • Wet compresses: Applying cool, wet compresses to the affected area can help relieve itching and inflammation.
  • Barrier creams: Barrier creams or ointments can protect the skin from further irritation and help promote healing.
  • Phototherapy: In severe contact dermatitis, phototherapy (light therapy) may help reduce inflammation and promote healing.

It is important to seek medical attention if you suspect you have contact dermatitis or experience any of the above complications. A Dermatologist can help you identify the cause of your dermatitis and develop a treatment plan to manage your symptoms and prevent further complications.