Contact dermatitis is an allergic or irritant reaction to a substance that has touched the skin. This can be a cream, lotion, cosmetic, plant, metal, dye, shoe or clothing component, soap or detergent, etc. The classic example of contact dermatitis is poison ivy.
Identifying the cause of the contact dermatitis can be straightforward, or may require extensive detective work or patch testing. Until the source of the dermatitis is found and avoided, treatment can be with cool compresses, cortisone creams or pills, and protective clothing, creams and lotions. Patch testing can be performed in all of our offices, and entails application of a panel of culprit substances to the skin, and monitoring reaction.
Dermatitis refers to inflammation of the skin. Eczema (also called atopic dermatitis) is a condition in which patients develop inflamed, itchy patches on the skin, most often the extremities, trunk, and face. Eczema can be associated with asthma, hay fever, and allergies in the patient or family members. The cause of eczema is not known. Eczema can affect all ages, including babies.
Treatment includes avoiding triggering factors, such as dry skin, irritating substances, and infection. Additionally, cortisone creams, emollients and topical immunomodulating medications (such as Elidel and Protopic) can be used. Ultraviolet light and systemic medications, such as oral cortisone and immunosuppressive agents, are used for the most resistant cases. There are now new, very effective treatments for eczema that have come on the market, and have dramatically changed the treatment of eczema.