Contact dermatitis is a general word that describes irritation of the skin due to being exposed to an irritant or an allergen. There are two types of contact dermatitis:
Irritant Contact Dermatitis:
Irritant contact dermatitis is a gradually occurring irritation of the hands in response to repeated exposure to irritants. This is a commonly associated with occupational hazards, where repeat exposure is inevitable. Nurses, for example often get irritant contact dermatitis from constant hand washing, which is a necessity in the job.
Allergic Contact Dermatitis:
Less common than irritant contact dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis occurs when the skin reacts to an allergen. The reaction is often quick, causing blistering, inflammation, or redness within a day or two of contact with the allergen. Reactions are often severe, and may require an allergy test using patches for a proper diagnosis. Some common allergens include:
- Fragrances (perfume)
- Epoxy resins
- Sun exposure