Contact dermatitis is an acute or chronic skin inflammation caused by cutaneous interaction with a chemical, biologic, or physical agent. Contact dermatitis after a single exposure or multiple exposures may be irritant or allergic. Clinically, differentiating between these processes may be difficult.
Irritant contact dermatitis is caused by direct tissue damage following a single exposure or multiple exposures to a known irritant. By contrast, in allergic contact dermatitis, tissue damage by allergic substances is mediated through immunologic mechanisms. A complete history related to exposures at home, the workplace, and in recreational activities is essential to making the diagnosis and identifying the causative agent.
Acutely, eczematous or nonspecific dermatitis is the most common clinical expression of this induced inflammation. The severity of the dermatitis ranges from a mild, short-lived condition to a severe, persistent, job-threatening, and possibly life-threatening disease. Treatment of both irritant contact dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis begins with removal of the offending substance.
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Cite this: William James. Fast Five Quiz: Compare Your Knowledge of Contact Dermatitis - Medscape - Jun 06, 2017.