ID: 112
Category: Skin Condition
CreatedBy: 1
UpdatedBy: 1
createdon: 25 Jan 2023
updatedon: 04 Apr 2023

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Author: Khoa Tran
Published Jan 25, 2023
Updated Apr 04, 2023

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Contact Dermatitis

Etymology and Pronunciation

Dermatitis (dur-muh-TAHY-tis)
derma - Greek for "skin"
-itis - Greek for "inflammation"

History of Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a common skin condition that occurs when the skin comes into contact with an irritating substance or an allergen. The history and discovery of contact dermatitis can be traced back to the 1800s when the condition was first described by French dermatologist Pierre Adolphe Adrien Doyon.

Doyon observed that patients who had been exposed to certain substances, such as plants or metals, developed skin inflammation and itching. He coined the term "eczema" to describe this condition, which was later modified to "contact dermatitis" to better describe the underlying cause.

In the early 1900s, researchers began to identify specific substances that could cause contact dermatitis. In 1908, researchers discovered that urushiol, a resin found in poison ivy and other plants, was a common cause of contact dermatitis.

In the 1920s, researchers identified nickel as another common cause of contact dermatitis. This discovery led to the development of nickel-free jewelry, which is still used today to prevent allergic reactions in individuals who are sensitive to nickel.

In the 1950s and 60s, researchers developed patch testing, a technique used to identify specific substances that cause allergic contact dermatitis. This technique involves applying small amounts of suspected allergens to the skin and monitoring the skin's reaction over time.

In recent years, researchers have made further progress in understanding the underlying mechanisms of contact dermatitis. It is now known that contact dermatitis is caused by an immune reaction in the skin that is triggered by exposure to an irritating substance or allergen.

Modern Understanding of Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a type of skin irritation that occurs when the skin comes into contact with certain substances. The skin around the area will appear dry and red with less distinct borders. The two main types of contact dermatitis are: irritant and allergic. 

The condition can cause various symptoms such as skin rash, redness, itching, swelling, blisters, cracking, peeling, burning, and dry skin. There are two main types of contact dermatitis: Allergic contact dermatitis and irritant contact dermatitis.

Causes of Contact Dermatitis

Irritant contact dermatitis is caused by contact with a substance that is irritating to the skin, such as detergents, solvents, or acids. It can also be caused by prolonged exposure to water or friction, which can damage the skin's protective barrier.

Allergic contact dermatitis occurs when the skin reacts to an allergen, such as metals, cosmetics, fragrances, soaps, detergents, rubber, latex, or plants such as poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac. The symptoms usually develop within a few hours to a few days after contact with the allergen. This type of dermatitis can happen to anyone and typically causes red, dry, and itchy skin.

Other factors that can contribute to the development of contact dermatitis include pre-existing skin conditions, such as eczema, and genetics. Some people may be more susceptible to contact dermatitis due to a genetic predisposition to allergies or a weaker skin barrier.

Treatments for Contact Dermatitis

Treatment for contact dermatitis depends on the cause and severity of the condition. Topical treatment options include creams, lotions, and ointments that can relieve itching and reduce redness and swelling. Oral antihistamines can also help relieve symptoms of itching and discomfort. In severe cases, steroids may be prescribed. Calamine lotion can provide relief for mild cases of contact dermatitis. It is important to avoid the substance that is causing the irritation in order to prevent the dermatitis from getting worse.

To prevent contact dermatitis, it is important to avoid known allergens and irritants. In some cases, patch testing may be recommended to identify specific allergens. Wearing gloves or avoiding contact with known irritants can help prevent future outbreaks of contact dermatitis.


Skin redness
Skin dryness

Confirmation Tests

- Allergy test

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