Contact dermatitis is when your skin reacts to something it has come into contact with. It causes your skin to go itchy and red – and sometimes causes it to blister. It can be sore and unpleasant, but is usually quite easy to treat.
What causes contact dermatitis?
The skin reaction is often caused by detergents like washing up liquid, chemicals that some people come into contact with at work, nickle (which is found in lots of jewellery), preservatives in oils and creams and additive in leather and rubber shoes and clothing.
If your skin has reacted to something once, it will be sore and can become irritated more easily.
Treatments for contact dermatitis
One way to treat contact dermatitis is to avoid whatever is causing the reaction. Sometimes it’s really obvious what’s causing it, but other times your doctor might refer you to a dermatologist to find out.
If your dermatitis is quite mild, using a fragrance free moisturiser might be all you need. Moisturisers make the skin more supple – and therefore less likely to chap and become sore.
For more severe cases you might need to use topical creams (which contain steroids) for a short period of time.
Dermatitis in children
Contact dermatitis in babies is usually caused by things like detergents, wet diapers and even drool. The reaction tends to be immediate and the most efficient treatment is to avoid babies comes into contact with what’s irritating their skin, if you know what it is.
If your baby is suffering from dermatitis, the first thing to do is to wash the affected are with cool water. There’re also ways you can prevent the condition, like cutting tags from shirts, changing nappies as soon as they’re dirty, keeping their face drool-free, and applying barrier creams.
I’m allergic to washing up liquid, so I always wear gloves to wash up, but some water must have got inside the gloves and brought the detergent into contact with my skin. I had a red, itchy rash on my hand which spread across my wrist and became flaky and chapped. I used topical steroid creams and also used a moisturiser that was developed specially for dry skin – but the only thing that has really stopped it coming back was to stop coming into contact with the washing up liquid. So I’ve bought some surgical gloves as an extra precaution to wear inside the washing up gloves.