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How To Deal With The Red, Itchy Skin Of Contact Dermatitis

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This issue of News For A Healthier You provides information on contact dermatitis from a guest author, Michael Dow of Athena Allergy, the makers of Nickel Solution. As you will see, he knows a lot about the subject from his many years of helping people with contact dermatitis.
  1. Two Types Of Contact Dermatitis:
    Irritant Contact Dermatitis (ICD) & Allergic Contact Dermatitis (ACD)
  2. Identifying Nickel Allergy
  3. More About Other Sources Of ACD From Margie
  4. What To Do To Prevent & Treat Contact Dermatitis
  5. March's Specials - Only For Newsletter Subscribers
  6. Newsletter Subscriber Sweepstakes Winner
How To Deal With The Red, Itchy Skin Of Contact Dermatitis

by Michael Dow of Athena Allergy
Two Types Of Contact Dermatitis
Contact Dermatitis is a localized skin irritation or rash brought on by contact with a foreign substance. There are two primary types of contact dermatitis: Irritant Contact Dermatitis (ICD) and Allergic Contact Dermatitis (ACD).

Use Personal Protective Equipment Such As Non-Latex Gloves To Avoid Irritant (Click to See Options) Irritant Contact Dermatitis (ICD) can occur from a single exposure to a chemical (acetone, soap, solvents, detergents, sodium laurel sulfate, fragrances, parabens, etc). The reaction or irritation usually occurs more rapidly than an allergic contact dermatitis reaction. It will also heal or fade faster.

Your tools to combat irritant contact dermatitis are avoidance via personal protective equipment such as non-latex gloves or long sleeves. Treatment can vary from moisturization to topical steroids, but the key is avoidance of offending irritants. ICD also tends to affect the hands more often, primarily because of hand and dish washing. Symptoms can be mild from chronically dry skin to fissures (cracks). Winter often exaggerates or aggravates symptoms.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis (ACD) occurs from repeated and often prolonged exposure to an allergen (nickel, poison oak, etc). ACD occurs slower and is classified as a delayed Type IV hypersensitivity reaction because a reaction can occur 48 hours after contacting the allergen. ACD also fades or resolves slower than an irritant reaction.

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Identifying Nickel Allergy
One of the most common forms of ACD is nickel allergy. It afflicts nearly 25% of women in the US. Men are also diagnosed with nickel allergy, but at a rate of about 6%. This difference is attributed to ear piercing. The most common locations for nickel allergy are the ears (earrings), abdomen (belts), and the neck (necklaces). This is where the nickel in the metal touches the skin. Symptoms can vary from a rash to blisters. Topical steroids help with symptoms but will not cure the allergy. You will most likely be allergic to the allergen for the rest of your life. Nickel is widely used in watches, earrings, belts, eyeglass frames and even cell phones to add luster and strength to metals because it is inexpensive. It's this overexposure that has caused the prevalence of nickel allergy to increase dramatically.

Use Nickel Alert To Determine The Presence Of Nickel In Metal (Click to See)

The key to living with any allergy is to avoid the allergen. With a skin allergy like nickel allergy, it will require you to avoid metal items that contain nickel. How do you know which items contain nickel? A quick and easy way is to test the metal items with Nickel Alert, a nickel detection kit. Just dab 2 drops of Nickel Alert on a cotton swab. Rub the metal item firmly for 15-30 seconds with the swab. A pink-red color on the swab indicates nickel. Nickel Alert tests for nickel so your skin does not have to!
More About Other Sources Of ACD From Margie
Other substances that can cause an allergic reaction on your skin simply by touching them include: poison ivy, oak, or sumac; natural latex; cosmetics with added dyes or fragrances; perfumes; cleaning solutions. Usually you need to come into contact with these substances several times before you will have a reaction.

Many people develop a rash from coming in contact with natural latex. Health care providers that wear latex gloves are especially prone to a reaction. Symptoms can also be in the form of sneezing and coughing since the latex particles can be inhaled. Here are some items that can contain latex that you might not realize: dishwashing gloves, carpeting, waistbands on clothing, balloons, rubber toys, hot water bottles, disposable diapers, rubber bands, erasers, swim goggles, racket handles, motorcycle and bicycle handgrips.

No one would touch poison ivy on purpose, but you can come into contact without realizing it. The oil can be potent for years on clothing, gardening tools, and sporting gear. If your pet has come into contact with poison ivy, the oil can rub off on you when you pet the animal. The oil can be inhaled if poison ivy is burned with brush, it can spray you if cut with a weed eater or lawnmower, or you can get it when pulling up dead poison ivy plants. If you suspect you or anything you own has come into contact with poison ivy, wash immediately and thoroughly with soap and water.

What To Do To Prevent & Treat Contact Dermatitis
Avoidance is always the best method of prevention. Use non-latex gloves and latex-free masks when you know you are going to be coming in contact with harmful substances. Use soaps, detergents, and personal care products that are free of harsh chemicals, added fragrances, and dyes.

But sometimes you accidentally come in contact with something that causes you to have a reaction. We have found that Proteque Non-Steroid Lotion is an excellent solution to ant and mosquito bites, bee stings, poison ivy, sunburn, diaper rash, and dry, cracked skin. Another good way to treat dry, cracked skin is to apply a moisturizer like Vanicream (that has no harsh chemicals, added fragrances, or dyes) at night, and wear cotton gloves to hold the lotion next to your skin while you are sleeping.

Margie Bullock, Newsletter Editor
Closing Thoughts
Learning what causes you to have a reaction and staying away from it is the best advice you can get for a healthier you. But when you can't avoid the irritant, it's good to know that there are sources of relief. Call our experts from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Eastern Time Monday through Friday toll-free at 1.800.522.1448 for answers to your questions about our helpful products.

And a special thanks to Michael Dow for his valuable contribution to this month's newsletter.

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