What is Contact Dermatitis?
Contact dermatitis is the reaction in the skin from contact with either substances that the patient is allergic to or the substance acts as a chemical irritant. The substance can come from contact with the skin by direct contact or a substance in the air.
Causes of Contact Dermatitis
Common substances that people are allergic to are poison oak, poison ivy, pollens in the air from plants or trees (which may be seasonal), and food allergies such as to seafood, strawberries, etc.
Common chemical irritants are soaps (those with antibacterial agents or scents), chemical cleaning products used in the home or at work, detergents, makeup, and other substances found in the environment.
Symptoms of Contact Dermatitis
Symptoms involving the eyes:
Swelling or edema
Wet skin or weeping in the beginning
Mild to severe itching of the eyes
Treatment of Contact Dermatitis
Cortisone cream or ointment applied to the irritated areas of the eyelids usually four times a day. In most cases this will reduce the itching quickly and will gradually resolve the contact dermatitis as long as the substance or substances causing the reaction are removed from the environment.
Antihistamines can also help relieve the itching and swelling. There are many over the counter antihistamines available. Follow the directions that come with the medication.
Cool compresses can provide some relief in many people.
Other Treatments of Contact Dermatitis
The patient needs to try and figure out what is causing the contact dermatitis. What was the patient doing before the contact dermatitis began. Common substances are common cleaning products, makeup, laundry detergents, soaps, perfumes, and etc. Even if someone has used the same product for years they still can become sensitive to it or companies may change ingredients in their products. The person may try wearing protective gloves and see if things improve. Change to mild soaps and a different laundry detergent.
The patient may need to see an allergist if they are not improving to help isolate the offending substance or substances.
Elimination of the offending substance is the only long lasting cure. Temporary relief and improvement can be accomplished with cortisone, antihistamines, and cool compresses.