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Contact dermatitis is an inflammatory skin disease caused by contact with an external agent. The inflammation is triggered by immunological mechanisms (allergic contact dermatitis) or by toxic damage to the skin (irritant contact dermatitis).
Contact Dermatitis explained in first person
Professionals and patients explain how you live with the disease
There are increasingly more treatments available, with fewer adverse effects, and more specific and skin-friendly cosmetics.
Many substances can cause these reactions, including soap, cosmetics, fragrances, jewellery and plants. To treat contact dermatitis, it is necessary to identify and avoid the cause of the reaction.
Types of dermatitis
The different types of dermatitis can be triggered by immunological mechanisms (allergic contact dermatitis) or by toxic damage to the skin (irritant contact dermatitis).
Allergic contact dermatitis. Appears when a person is sensitive to a particular substance (allergen) that triggers an immune response in the form of skin lesions that reappear after every instance of exposure to the allergen.
Irritant contact dermatitis. This may appear in any person when an irritant substance is applied to the skin at a certain concentration for enough time to generate lesions.
How many people are affected?
In Europe, it is estimated that up to 20% of the population has an allergy or contact dermatitis triggered by at least one allergen and, although it may appear at any age, its prevalence increases after 40 years of age, affecting twice as many women as men. Women also tend to be affected earlier.
Sara Gómez ArmayonesDermatologistDermatologist Department
Published: 25 May 2020
Updated: 25 May 2020
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