Contact Dermatitis

I know I keep going back to skin allergies, but it seems to be affecting a lot of us right now. I think the heat has a lot to do with it, but whatever the reason, it’s important to keep your skin healthy year round.

First off, I do want to say that my daughter’s swimmer’s rash/eczema has cleared up beautifully. We used a combination of California Baby products and were diligent with the moisturizer, and the rash has cleared up and the nighttime itching has stopped.

A lot of skin problems are caused by another condition, contact dermatitis, which is different than eczema, therefore needs to be treated differently. Contact dermatitis is an allergic rash that is a skin reaction resulting from contact with an allergen; excema on the other hand, isn’t really caused by coming into contact with something. So how do you treat contact dermatitis?

The best thing to do, of course, is to avoid the allergen. My best friend in high school was allergic to Irish Spring soap. She knew that she would break out in a rash if she ever used it, but soon learned that if her boyfriend used it, she would also break out. You need to be careful, just like with a food allergy to avoid the allergen second hand as well as first hand.

Common causes of contact dermatitis are nickel/chrome in jewelry and snaps; latex found in condoms, rubber gloves, bandages, and rubber bands; chemicals in cosmetics, toiletries, and perfumes; hair products, including hair dye; and laundry detergent and fabric softeners. The great outdoors hosts such potential villains as poison oak, poison sumac, and poison ivy (info from Yes, that’s a long list, but these allergens can be anywhere.

It’s hard to decipher where the allergen comes from. Sure, poison ivy may be easy to identify, but others not so easy. One of the first questions your doctor may ask you is what kind of laundry detergent or fabric softener you use. That is a big culprit because it’s not immediately identified. It’s also important to wash clothes before you wear them (or your children wear them) because of the chemicals used in making the clothes.

Another big group is cosmetics. Anything from perfume to lotion to deoderant can cause problems. Deoderant can be worse, too, if applied directly after shaving as your pores are more open. You can try a natural deoderant or try to wait if possible before applying it after shaving.

Yes avoidance is good, but what happens if you do develop a rash? You may need to see a doctor if it doesn’t go away with a topical cream like Cortisone, and antihistamines like Benadryl are good to help with the itching. Once itching starts, it’s hard to stop so an antihistamine is a really good idea. The summer heat can make things work, so try to stay on top of your allergies and what products you are using to keep your skin in the best health possible this summer.

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