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 › Irritant Contact Dermatitis

Irritant Contact Dermatitis

Irritant contact dermatitis (ICD) is caused by exposure of the skin to chemical or other physical agents which are capable of irritating the skin, acutely or chronically. Severe Irritant can cause toxic reactions even after a short exposure. Most cases, however, ever caused by chronic cumulative exposure to one or more irritants. The hands are the most commonly affected area. In addition to dermatitis, irritant contact responses of the skin include subjective irritancy, transient irritant reactions, persistent irritant reactions, toxic (caustic) burn. Irritant contact responses of skin appendages and pigmentary system include: follicular and acne form eruptions, miliaria, pigmentary changes (hypo and hyperpigmentation), granulomatous reactions, and alopecia.

Causes of Irritant contact dermatitis

Both chemical and physical agents can be irritants, causing cell damage if applied for sufficient time and in adequate concentration. ICD occurs when defense or repair capacity of the skin is unable to maintain normal skin integrity and function or when penetration of chemical induces an inflammatory response. Lesser irritants cause reaction only after prolonged exposure. The initial reaction is usually limited to the site of contact with irritant, the concentration of irritant diffusing outside the area of contact almost always falls below the critical threshold necessary to provoke a reaction. Individuals with an atopic diathesis are predisposed to irritant dermatitis; chronic rubbing and scratching compounds both irritant and atopic dermatitis. The majority of workers with significant occupational ICD are atopic; other contributory factors include car maintenance, gardening, adverse climatic or environmental conditions.

Signs and symptoms of Irritant contact dermatitis

In some individuals, subjective symptoms (itching, burning, stinging, smarting may be the only manifestations. Painful sensations can occur within seconds after exposit (immediate-type stinging) to acids, chloroform" and methanol. Delayed-type stinging occur within 1 to 2 minutes, peaking at 5 to 10 minutes, fading by 30 minutes, and is caused by agents such as aluminum chloride, phenol, and propylene glycol. Both immediate- and de. layed-type stinging occurs most commonly on the face, especially the eyelids, and is more common in atopics.

Irritant contact dermatitis Diagnosis

Irritant contact eczema looks the same as other types of eczema. The connection with the work environment may be obvious if there is routine contact with a known irritant or the job is a 'wet work' type; otherwise it may take time to establish that the skin is reacting against an irritant. Therefore irritant contact eczema is dependent for diagnosis on a good history of work exposure and knowledge of likely problem agents. Also, a negative patch test result can be useful to exclude an allergic contact dermatitis.

The diagnosis is based on a history of exposure to the suspected irritant(s) and clinical examination. Patch testing is performed to exclude an allergic contact dermatitis.

Treatment for Irritant contact dermatitis

Healing usually occurs within 2 weeks of removal of noxious stimuli; in more chronic cases, 6 weeks or longer may be required. Irritant contact dermatitis is usually treated with the following:

  • Chemical burns are usually flushed with water followed by use of antidote or specific remedy against the particular toxic chemical.
  • Compresses, creams and ointments may assist healing
    • Emollient creams
    • Topical steroids
    • Antibiotics for secondary infection (usually flucloxacillin or erythromycin )

Tips on preventing and treating Irritant contact dermatitis

  • Avoid irritant or caustic chemicals by wearing protective clothing.
  • If contact does occur, wash with water or weak neutralizing solution.
  • Barrier creams
  • In general, gels and solutions are more irritating then lotions and creams.

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