Dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin that can results from direct contact with certain substances, such as soap, cosmetics, jewelry or weeds, including poison ivy or poison oak. Symptoms of contact dermatitis can include red, itchy rash, dry patches resembling burns, pain or tenderness, and in some severe cases, blisters and draining fluid. Contact dermatitis isn't contagious or life threatening, but it can be very uncomfortable.
How is dermatitis treated?
To successfully treat a case of dermatitis we first identify what's causing your inflammation, and whether that cause is an irritant or an allergen. An irritant suggests a one-time exposure, such as contact with a particular detergent or soap, or a problematic skin care or cosmetic product, including even your deodorant. Any of these substances have the potential of removing oil and the protective barriers from your skin, leaving it to dry excessively until inflammation occurs. Usually the first step of treating irritants is simply to remove the offending substance from your possession. Allergens demand a slightly different treatment, since the dermatitis they produce is usually the result of the re-exposure to a specific substance, such as poison ivy or poison oak, or various chemicals or metals, including even those found on some jewelry. New allergies can occur even beyond middle age, but once your skin has developed an allergic response to a specific substance, the allergy remains for life.
Is itchiness typical to having dermatitis?
In either case of irritant- or allergen-causing dermatitis, an intense itchiness often goes with the inflammation, and it is important to remember that prolonged scratching is no help. In fact, persistent scratching can sometimes lead to a condition in which an area of skin that's frequently scratched becomes thick and leathery. The patches can be raw, red or darker than the rest of your skin. Persistent scratching can also lead to a bacterial skin infection and permanent scars or changes in skin color.
Which treatments help?
Barba Dermatology offers multiple treatments appropriate for patients with contact dermatitis. Patch testing is a common diagnostic tool used to identify the specific agent that triggers your contact dermatitis. Our access to a national allergen database allows us to recommend products on the basis of what specific allergies we discover a patient has.