Contact dermatitis is inflammation of the skin that results from an external substance coming into contact with the skin. This can occur through one of two mechanisms.
Irritant contact dermatitis is responsible for approximately 80 per cent of cases of contact dermatitis. Irritants are often encountered at work (occupational) although other common irritants are soaps, detergents, food and cement. Almost all workers in occupations such as hairdressing, cleaning, metal engineering, building-site work and horticulture develop some degree of irritant contact dermatitis. An irritant dermatitis is most likely to occur on the hands.
Allergic contact dermatitis accounts for the remaining 20 per cent of cases. In this condition, the cause of skin inflammation is a hypersensitivity reaction. The commonest allergens are nickel, fragrances, rubber, some plants, formaldehyde, skin medications (including topical corticosteroids) and hairdressing chemicals.
The symptoms vary depending upon the type of dermatitis. The appearance of acute irritant dermatitis can range from a mild reaction consisting of transient redness to a severe painful burn with blistering. Chronic irritant dermatitis often begins with a few patches of dry, slightly inflamed skin that become thickened with time.
Early allergic contact dermatitis starts with the features of eczema developing at the site of contact, e.g. an itch under an earring or along a waistband that contains rubber. The itch can develop into an area of redness with swelling and even small blisters that weep. The reaction can extend beyond or occur in a different place from the site of contact. If exposure to an allergen persists, the skin becomes drier, thicker and scalier with a change in colour.
Allergic contact dermatitis usually occurs 48 to 72 hours after exposure, and will wax and wane depending on exposure.
DermaSilk in Contact Dermatitis
The hands and feet are a major problem in contact dermatitis and whilst it is not always possible to fully remove the source of the irritation the use of DermaSilk gloves and socks can have a major positive impact on its management. DermaSilk gloves have no seams and are long enough to cover the wrist area. They are made with the DermaSilk on the inside protected with a wicking material called Coolmax® knitted onto the outside giving the gloves additional durability and can be worn either on their own or under other protective gloves to help calm the symptoms. The socks act as a base layer to calm and control irritated skin on the feet.
In the UK, DermaSilk gloves for adults and children are available on prescription and can also be purchased privately via our website. The gloves are available in both full-fingered and fingerless versions to enable the use of touch screens or to maintain tactile dexterity.
We do also have a range of Micro Air products which prevent allergens coming into contact with the skin and these are often worn in combination with the DermaSilk Socks and Gloves. For more information please call us on 01462 346100 or e-mail email@example.com