Fast Five Quiz: Compare Your Knowledge of Contact Dermatitis

William James, MD


June 06, 2017

A minimum of 10 days is required for individuals to develop specific sensitivity to a new contactant. For example, an individual who never has been sensitized to poison ivy may develop only a mild dermatitis 2 weeks following the initial exposure but typically develops severe dermatitis within 1-2 days of the second and subsequent exposures.

Cumulative irritant contact dermatitis typically occurs with exposure to weak irritants rather than strong ones. Often, the exposure (eg, water) is not only at work but also at home.

Many cases of contact dermatitis have a similar appearance regardless of the mechanism or cause of the inflammation. Other than distribution and severity, most cases of acute irritant contact dermatitis appear similar, and the clinical appearance does not suggest the etiologic agent. However, some distributions are highly suggestive of the etiologic agent.

Less important subjective criteria for irritant contact dermatitis include the onset of dermatitis within 2 weeks of exposure and reports of many other coworkers or family members affected.

For more on the presentation of contact dermatitis, read here.


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