Contact with everyday objects — from shampoo and jewelry to food and water — causes this very common type of eczema. When the contact leads to irritated skin, the eczema is called irritant contact dermatitis. If an allergic reaction develops on the skin after exposure, the eczema is called allergic contact dermatitis.
Signs and Symptoms
Allergic contact dermatitis usually develops a few hours after the allergen (substance to which the person is allergic) touches the skin and causes:
Irritant contact dermatitis occurs after frequent exposure to a mild irritant, such as detergent, and after brief exposure to a strong irritant, such as battery acid. Signs and symptoms of irritant contact dermatitis include:
Once irritant contact dermatitis develops, exposure to mild substances, such as baby shampoo and even water, can irritate the skin and make the condition worse.
Sometimes allergic contact dermatitis does not flare until it is triggered. Ultraviolet (UV) light and perspiration can trigger allergic contact dermatitis.
Irritant contact dermatitis. When a substance damages the skin faster than the skin can repair itself, irritant contact dermatitis develops. Substances that frequently cause irritant contact dermatitis include water, soaps, detergents, cleaners, fiberglass, hair dyes, solvents, oils, paints, varnishes, foods, and metalworking fluids.
If contact dermatitis persists despite treatment, oral or injectable corticosteroids can be used for a short time to get the inflammation under control.