Skin Disorders

Skin Disorders

Skin disorders cover a wide range of conditions, some benign, some very serious, and some even a sign of another underlying illness. A skin disorder not only affects your physical health, but also your emotional well-being.


SkinCareSkin Disorders › Allergic Contact Dermatitis

Allergic Contact Dermatitis

Allergic contact dermatitis associated with plants, termed allergic phytodermatitis(APD), occurs in sensitized individuals after exposure to a wide variety of plant allergens and is characterized by an acute, very pruritic, eczematous dermatitis, often with blisters arising in a linear arrangement at the site of plant contact. In the United States , poison ivy/oak are by far the most common plants implicated in APD. In contrast, phytophotodennatitis is a photosensitive reaction occurring in any individual with a photosensitizing plant-derived chemical on the skin after sun exposure.

Allergic contact dermatitis is also distinct from irritant contact dermatitis , in which a similar skin condition is caused by excessive contact with irritants.

Allergy is the term given to a reaction by a small number of people to a substance (known as the allergen) which is harmless to those who are not allergic to it. Only small quantities of allergen are necessary to induce the reaction. Contact allergy occurs predominantly from the allergen on the skin rather than from internal sources or food. The first contact does not result in allergy; often the person has been able to touch the material for many years without adverse reaction.

Causes of Allergic contact dermatitis

Common causes for allergic contact dermatitis of the foot and ankle are exposure to poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac, and exposure to dyes used in shoes and sneakers. Even all-white sneakers are made with dye and rubber, both of which are common allergens that can cause rashes and dry scaly skin in people who are hypersensitive to them.

Heat and perspiration generated during exercise may cause dyes in shoes or sneakers to wick (carry through) to the skin, worsening the condition. The dye may not be visible on the sock or skin, but if the person is allergic to it, a dry, itchy rash may develop within 1 or 2 days.

The same reaction can occur with leather shoes, which also contains dye that can cause an allergic reaction.

Signs and symptoms of Allergic contact dermatitis

  • Tiny blisters that may crust
  • Scaling, red, thickened skin
  • Itching, burning, stinging
  • Large blisters occur
  • Blisters may follow a line

Allergic contact dermatitis Diagnosis

The diagnosis is based on the patient history, clinical examination and patch testing.

Treatment for Allergic contact dermatitis

The duration of APD varies among individuals, resolving in some in 1 to 2 weeks. Treatment for allergic contact dermatitis usually involves using a topical corticosteroid cream and/or an oral antihistamine. A podiatrist can recommend manufacturers of hypoallergenic shoes that do not cause allergic reactions. In severe cases, systemic methods such as oral and injectable corticosterioids, antibiotics, and other anti-inflammatory and immunologic agents may be necessary.

Tips on preventing and treating Allergic contact dermatitis

  • Washing allergic substance as quickly as possible.  Sometimes isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol is used to wash off organic solvents.  Iodoquinal may help with nickel allergy.  The best prevention, of course, is to avoid substances that induce this reaction.
  • Substitute products made of materials that do not cause reactions.

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