Managing Dermatitis | Lynchburg, VA

Causes of Contact Dermatitis or Allergic Skin Reactions

When your skin comes in contact with an irritant or an allergen, it can cause a reaction called contact dermatitis. This reaction can include symptoms such as:

  • Rash
  • Blisters
  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Hives

Allergens are unique to each person. What causes problems in some people is harmless to others. In general, people who have allergies overreact to allergens. The immune system believes it is under attack and creates a surge of antibodies to help fight the attack. These antibodies result in a red, itchy rash.

Triggers for Contact Dermatitis

It may take years to develop skin allergies, and people are often surprised to learn that they become increasingly sensitive to animals, fragrances, chemicals, and other environmental agents as they age. Common skin allergies include:

  • Nickel – a metal used in money, jewelry, makeup, lotions, soaps and shampoos
  • Sunscreens and bug spray
  • Fragrances
  • Cleaning products
  • Plants such as poison ivy, and poison oak
  • Latex – used in gloves and some clothing
  • Chemicals
  • Pollen
  • Cigarette smoke

Skin allergies can also produce hives: itchy red welts that appear after exposure to an allergen.

Treatment for Contact Dermatitis

If you know you have allergic skin reactions to specific triggers, it is critical is to avoid the triggers. If you do get a rash, there are some steps you can do at home to provide relief:

  • Wash your skin with mild soap and cool water as soon as possible
  • Apply cool compresses to reduce reaction and inflammation
  • Apply over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream for relief from itching
  • Apply non irritating moisturizer to restore the protective layer
  • Take over-the-counter oral antihistamine to help relieve itching

If the at-home treatment measures do not provide significant relief within a few days, it is time to call the dermatologist. Depending on the severity of the rash, your dermatologist may prescribe an oral steroid and antihistamine. Prescription strength topical steroids can be given to help calm the rash and symptoms.

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis (AD) is also known as eczema, which is a common skin disease in children and some adults. It is well known that eczema, depending on the severity, can produce quite a bit of discomfort for its sufferer. Eczema forms itchy, dry, scaly patches on the skin. In babies, atopic dermatitis can appear on the cheeks, face and scalp. It is important to keep these patches of skin clean as they can be prone to infection.

As children age, the scaly patches of atopic dermatitis can appear on:

  • The backs of knees
  • Fingers, knuckles and nail beds
  • Inside elbow creases
  • Ankles
  • Wrists

In time, the skin with AD can thicken, lighten or darken. Itching is of great concern with eczema as it can lead to skin infections.

Researchers are still studying the causes of AD. It is believed that many factors play a role in causing AD. Family history, asthma, environmental conditions such as pollution or extreme cold and even the maternal age at childbirth are all suspected causes of eczema.

Treatment for Atopic Dermatitis

A dermatologist will examine the patient’s skin and determine the locations and severity of AD. Occasionally, a dermatologist will offer skin testing to discern the exact allergens to which the child or adult is reacting.

Treatment cannot cure atopic dermatitis, but it can help to control it. Treating eczema is important because it can:

  • Prevent AD from getting worse.
  • Relieve pain or itching, thus calming the skin.
  • Prevent skin infections.
  • Reduce the thickening of the skin often caused by eczema.

The treatment plan for AD includes anti-inflammatory topical medicine, daily skin care and lifestyle modifications. Skin care and lifestyle changes can reduce or prevent the amount of flare-ups. At Seven Hills Dermatology, we will create a tailored treatment plan to help you control your eczema. Our goals include:

  • Control itching.
  • Reduce skin inflammation (redness and swelling).
  • Clear any infections that may be present.
  • Loosen and remove scaly lesions when necessary.

Your Family Deserves Healthy Skin

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