Eczema and Dermatitis
Contact dermatitis is inflammation of the skin that occurs when you come into contact with a particular substance. It can cause red, itchy and scaly skin, and sometimes burning and stinging.
Contact dermatitis is a type of eczema. This is the name for a group of skin conditions that cause dry, irritated skin. There are several other types of eczema, including:
- atopic eczema (also called atopic dermatitis), which often runs in families and is linked to other conditions, such as asthma and hay fever
discoid eczema, which usually affects adults and causes circular or oval patches of eczema
- varicose eczema, which occurs on the legs, usually around varicose veins (swollen and enlarged veins)
Types of contact dermatitis
There are two types of contact dermatitis:
- allergic contact dermatitis - this is caused by an allergen (a substance that causes an immune response in the skin)
- irritant contact dermatitis - this is caused by an irritant (a substance that damages the skin physically)
Allergic contact dermatitis involves the immune system, the body’s natural defence system, which reacts abnormally to the allergen. The first time this happens, the body becomes ‘sensitised’ to the allergen. The next time you come into contact with the allergen, the body ‘remembers’ the previous exposure and it causes a reaction.
Irritant contact dermatitis can occur in anyone who is exposed to irritants for a sufficient amount of time.
Both types of contact dermatitis can cause your skin to become red, blistered, dry and cracked. Sometimes, it is possible to have both irritant and allergic contact dermatitis at the same time.
From NHS Choices website.