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Someone who knows a little Latin recognizes right away that this medical term must describe a skin condition; it shares a root with the formal name for a skin doctor, a dermatologist. Contact dermatitis is a variety of the much better-known eczema skin condition. The name indicates how contact between the skin and some irritating substance, or perhaps an allergic reaction, causes this condition to develop. This is a key difference between this health issue and the more common atopic eczema that often runs in families. Contact dermatitis condition responds well to treatment, and some sufferers get a full cure.

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How does this condition change the appearance of the skin?

You soon notice how this skin disorder damages the skin on your face and hands, although it also sometimes affects other parts of the body. It causes areas of skin to become reddish. The skin could become very dry, and you might notice cracked skin. These symptoms contrast with the signs of other types of eczema. For example, discoid eczema marks the skin with circular or oval reddish patches, and varicose eczema affects the area around the varicose vein in the lower leg.

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What is the most obvious Contact dermatitis indicator?

There seems to be a clear connection between eczema's appearance and contact with an irritating substance or allergy source. Quite often, these symptoms appear on the skin within two days of this contact, and they might even show up immediately in extreme cases. In contrast, if contact was with one of the weaker kinds of irritants (for example, various soaps) the disorder only breaks out after a long period of exposure. Avoidance of the irritant or allergy trigger for many days causes these skin problems to disappear in a few weeks (or even sooner). Identifying the irritant or allergy source could be a challenge.

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Are there other symptoms besides eczema?

This depends largely on whatever causes the skin irritation. Some substances may make skin itch, or you feel as though you have a bad case of sunburn. There is also a small risk of developing a skin infection. An increase in the intensity of the skin disorder and the appearance of pus, pains, and fever are some clear signs of infection. Do not neglect to consult a doctor if any of these signs are present. It is always much easier to successfully treat infections when spotted at an early stage.

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What is the best treatment option?

Avoidance of the skin irritant or allergy trigger is the preferred treatment option. It makes good sense to avoid medications and the inevitable side effects wherever possible, so once you know what causes your skin problem, make sure you don't come into contact with it anymore. If the condition develops as soon as the skin and trigger substance make contact, problem source identification is easy. If there is a delayed impact discovering what to avoid is harder, but today various allergy tests can identify individual skin disorder triggers.

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Is it possible to avoid all contact with skin irritants?

The answer to this question varies between substances. For example, if you discover that signs of eczema appear on your hand and face soon after you use a particular soap, it should be easy enough to replace the problem soap with a cleaning agent that causes no skin reaction. It becomes more complicated if someone works in a factory where contact with chemicals sets off their skin disorder. Even in this case, the use of gloves and other protective clothing could offer an acceptable solution. Even if it proves impossible to avoid all contact with disorder triggers, it is still worthwhile reducing contact as much as possible.

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How can emollients help people with this condition?

These liquids moisturize the skin and help to protect it from drying out. For these reasons, doctors commonly use emollients to treat eczema problems. According to each individual's skin problem, the doctor knows the best ointment to use. Some serve as replacements for soaps that cause skin irritations. There are different emollients for application to the face and other parts of the body. Others treat different degrees of skin dryness.

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How do contact dermatitis sufferers apply emollients?

They need to apply them to their skin in generous amounts and frequent intervals. Contrary to what you might imagine, the treatment does not require you to rub these ointments or lotions into the skin. The proper way to apply them is to smooth them into the skin in the same direction your hair grows. For a chemical or some other kind of workplace skin irritant, keep some lotion at work and apply it after contact with this substance.

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Use of topical corticosteroids

If the doctor finds the patient's skin inflamed, they might prescribe a topical corticosteroid cream. This is an effective treatment for such inflammations. The cream comes in different strengths, so the doctor selects the strength appropriate to the skin problem severity and location. The patient applies this cream in the same way they use an emollient, but they should only spread it over the affected skin in a thin layer. In most situations, a single daily application is sufficient, but in all events do not apply it more than twice a day.

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Do emollients and topical corticosteroids have side effects?

Side effects do not occur frequently, but sometimes they could aggravate the skin disorder. If emollient causes such problems, ask the doctor to change it. The more topical corticosteroid you use, the higher the risk of acne, skin discolorations, and other undesirable side effects. Usually, this skin damage disappears after the treatment ceases, but it shows how important it is to use a weaker cream variety and apply it in moderation.

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What are other treatment options available?

If contact dermatitis affects an extensive area of skin, doctors prescribe corticosteroid tablets. Ideally, use these tablets only on a short-term basis since long-term use may lead to high blood pressure and other health problems. The doctor could also send the patient to phototherapy using ultraviolet light. Some natural medicine experts advocate herbal cures, but their effectiveness is open to debate. Anyone who uses conventional medications must tell their doctor if they want to also take an herbal cure.  

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.