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Irritant Contact Dermatitis

Irritation of the skin is the most common cause of irritant contact dermatitis. Any substance that damages the outer protective barrier of the skin (known as the epidermis) can cause this type of dermatitis. There are many things that can irritate and damage the skin. Some are strong, like certain industrial solvents and soaps; others are weak, like water.
Some of the factors that play a role in a person developing irritant contact dermatitis include:
  • The strength of the chemicals
  • How long the exposure lasts
  • The sensitivity of the skin
  • Other medical conditions a person has, such as atopic dermatitis
  • Environmental conditions (such as heat and humidity).
Some examples of substances that can cause irritant contact dermatitis include:
  • Strong alkaline soaps
  • Industrial solvents
  • Pesticides
  • Artificial fertilizers
  • Gasoline
  • Clay or plaster
  • Paint
  • Flour
  • Detergents
  • Thinners
  • Wood preservatives
  • Cement
  • Disinfectants
  • Oils
  • Grease
  • Shampoos.
Repeated exposure to wet conditions can also cause irritant contact dermatitis. Some examples of situations that can repeatedly expose a person to wet conditions include:
  • Any occupation in which wet conditions are common, such as construction, hairdressing, nursing, and the food industry.
  • Long exposure to wet diapers followed by frequent washing.
  • Dribble rash (irritant contact dermatitis around the mouth or chin from saliva). In infants, it is due to drooling; in older children, it is due to repeated lip licking.

Contact Dermatitis Information

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