Contact dermatitis is a type of dermatitis caused by hypersensitivity response or chemical irritation. The major sources known to cause contact dermatitis are dyes, perfumes, poison plants, chemicals, and metals.
Types of contact dermatitis
Irritant dermatitis – irritant dermatitis accounts for 80% cases of contact dermatitis. It can occur at all ages and in both sexes. Irritant eczemas occur most commonly on the hand, as they are exposed most to most irritants.
Prolonged exposure to weak irritants is required for eczema to occur. A strong irritant can produce an immediate reaction, resulting in the formation of vesicles and bullae.
Primary irritant dermatitis causes an inelastic feeling of the skin; there is discomfort due to dryness and Pruritus. Chronic exposure results in dry, thick, and fissured skin.
The common irritants are soaps, detergents, acid, alkalis, solvents, and cutting oils.
Allergic contact dermatitis – is a manifestation of delayed hypersensitivity. Contact allergy is rare before the age of 15 years and in extreme old age, due to diminished cell mediated immunity. Allergic contact dermatitis develops after weeks or years of exposure to the sensitizing agent. Once the individual is sensitized, further exposure will cause dermatitis within 48 hours. The allergy is transferred to other parts of the body, where an allergic rash appears.
Contact dermatitis causes
- Alkalis : soaps, detergents, household ammonia, lye, cleaners.
- Cosmetics: perfumes, dyes, oils.
- Dusts of lime, arsenic, wood.
- Hydrocarbons: crude petroleum, lubricating oil, mineral oil, paraffin, asphalt, tar.
- Fabrics: wool, polyester, dyes, sizing
- Metal salts: calcium chloride, zinc chloride, copper, mercury, nickel, silver.
- Plants: ragweed, poison oak, poison ivy, pine.
- Coloring agents
- Rubber agents
- Rubber products
Symptoms and signs of contact dermatitis
Contact dermatitis causes itching and burning. It is characterized by redness, which can progress to vesiculation, oozing, weeping, scaling, and fissuring. After several days of itching and rubbing, the patient may develop secondary bacterial infection with purulence and crusting in the area.
Sometimes, the reaction is so intense that swelling occurs at the contact site and dermatitis occurs at distant sites. The later phenomenon is called id reaction.
Diagnosis of contact dermatitis
The diagnosis is made largely on the basis of a careful history and physical examination. The exact cause of allergic contact dermatitis often is difficult to determine, because the exposure can antedate the reaction by as much as 2 weeks, as in the case of primary sensitization. Referral back to the patient’s primary care doctor for patch testing may be necessary in cases of chronic contact dermatitis.
Contact dermatitis complications
Complications associated with contact dermatitis are not common. However, bacterial super infection of affected areas is the most common complication.
Homeopathic treatment for contact dermatitis
Homeopathy is one of the most popular holistic systems of medicine. The selection of remedy is based upon the theory of individualization and symptoms similarity by using holistic approach. This is the only way through which a state of complete health can be regained by removing all the sign and symptoms from which the patient is suffering. The aim of homeopathy is not only to treat contact dermatitis but to address its underlying cause and individual susceptibility. As far as therapeutic medication is concerned, several remedies are available to treat contact dermatitis that can be selected on the basis of cause, sensations and modalities of the complaints. For individualized remedy selection and treatment, the patient should consult a qualified homeopathic doctor in person. There are following remedies which are helpful in the treatment of contact dermatitis:
Hepar Sulph, Mercurius, Rhus Tox, Silicea, Dulcamara, Gelsemium, Pulsatilla, Sulphur, nitric acid, Staphisagria, Plumbum met, Crotolus H, Euphrasia, Lachesis, lycopodium, Natrum Mur, petroleum, Ruta, Sepia, Zincum met and many other medicines.