Dermatitis is the localized inflammation of the skin. Signs include redness, swelling, heat, flaking, pain and sometimes blistering.
There are two main categories: allergic and irritant.
IRRITANT dermatitis is a direct result of an injury to the skin caused by chemical exposure, and can be further subdivided to the following:
Because irritant dermatitis is a function of the chemical, it will occur in all individuals exposed to the chemical given the sufficient exposure times and concentrations.
Nonetheless, it should be considered that the skin of some is much more irritable than others. The determinants of hyperirritable skin include age, genetics, environment and concomitant chemical exposure.
Develops following exposure to chemicals or elements to which the individual has previously become sensitized. It is what is known as a type IV or delayed type hypersensitivity reaction in the skin, and the prevalence varies with the allergen. The individual will develop red, scaling, papular and/or blistering eruption at the site of exposure. Diagnosis is most effectively made by patch testing.
Early treatment is key for successful management! Upon onset of symptoms, victims of dermatitis should consult a proper clinician. In the evaluation of contact dermatitis some of the approaches made along with the physical exam will be to identify the conditions of exposure. Information to be gathered will include chemicals in the working environment, environmental conditions, description of processes involved in a day’s work and a thorough patient medical history will be examined.
It may be treated with compresses, medicated wraps, prescription creams or ointments, gentle cleansers, systemic corticosteroids, oral antihistamines, or a combination. In general, people should protect their skin from trauma, irritation and the elements while the dermatitis is active. Only gentle cleansers should be used and fragrance free moisturizing creams and barriers such as petroleum jelly should be used to protect the skin.
In the U.S., in 2008, statistics showed that skin disorders compromise more than 35% of all occupationally related diseases. Among all occupational dermatitis, irritant dermatitis accounts for more than 80%.
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