DESCRIPTIONContact dermatitis is a skin inflammation caused by contact with an irritating substance. Contact dermatitis is not contagious nor malignant. The skin, especially of the hands, feet, and groin, is involved. Contact dermatitis can affect both sexes, all ages, but is more common in girls than boys.
Appropriate health care includes:
Self-care after diagnosis.
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSItching (sometimes).
Cracks and fissures in the skin.
Bright red, weeping areas (severe cases).
Contact with irritants, such as metals in jewelry or belt buckles, acids or solvents. (Hot water and detergent are the most common irritants.) The irritant removes the fatty layer of skin. This causes dehydration and shrinking of surface cells.
RISK FACTORSConstant exposure to hot water, detergents, or any irritant that changes the moisture content of skin.
Burns from hot water or sunburn.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCE
Your child should avoid contact with any irritant which has caused dermatitis in the past.
Protect the child's skin from sunburn and other burns.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONSPain and disfigurement of the child's hands from constant lesions.
Your child's symptoms can be controlled with treatment and avoidance of the irritant. Recurrence is common, so treatment may be necessary for years.
HOME CAREInstructions for your child:
Avoid the chemical or material causing the skin eruption.
Use bath oil instead of soap for bathing.
Pat skin dry rather than rubbing it.
Reduce water temperature to lukewarm for bathing or other uses.
Use only cream, lotion or ointment prescribed for the condition. Other commercial products may aggravate the condition. Apply ointment or cream to hands 6 or 7 times a day. For other body parts, lubricate twice a day, especially after bathing.
Minimize the use of solvents, and wear heavy-duty vinyl gloves to prevent contact with irritating substances, such as water, soap, detergent, metal scouring pads, scouring powder, paint, paint thinner, turpentine, and polish for cars, floors, shoes, furniture, or metal.
Dry the insides of vinyl gloves after use. Discard gloves if they develop a hole.
Wear vinyl gloves when you peel or squeeze lemons, oranges, grapefruit, tomatoes, or potatoes.
Wear leather or heavy-duty fabric gloves for household chores or gardening.
Use a dishwashing machine to wash dishes or ask someone else to do it.
Remove rings before washing hands or doing chores.
MEDICATIONYour doctor may prescribe topical creams, ointments or lotions. These may include steroid preparations to reduce inflammation or lubricants to preserve moisture.
See Medications section for information regarding medicines your doctor may prescribe.
Your child can resume normal activities gradually as irritation subsides.
DIET & FLUIDS
No special diet.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?Yes, because it is not contagious to others.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child develops a fever.
Signs of infection (swelling, tenderness, redness, warmth) develop at the site of irritation.
Treatment does not relieve the child's symptoms in 1 week.