Medline ® Abstract for Reference 35
of 'Clinical features and diagnosis of allergic contact dermatitis'
Diagnosis and management of contact dermatitis.
Usatine RP, Riojas M
Am Fam Physician. 2010;82(3):249.
Contact dermatitis is a common inflammatory skin condition characterized by erythematous and pruritic skin lesions that occur after contact with a foreign substance. There are two forms of contact dermatitis: irritant and allergic. Irritant contact dermatitis is caused by the non-immune-modulated irritation of the skin by a substance, leading to skin changes. Allergic contact dermatitis is a delayed hypersensitivity reaction in which a foreign substance comes into contact with the skin; skin changes occur after reexposure to the substance. The most common substances that cause contact dermatitis include poison ivy, nickel, and fragrances. Contact dermatitis usually leads to erythema and scaling with visible borders. Itching and discomfort may also occur. Acute cases may involve a dramatic flare with erythema, vesicles, and bullae; chronic cases may involve lichen with cracks and fissures. When a possible causative substance is known, the first step in confirming the diagnosis is determining whether the problem resolves with avoidance of the substance. Localized acute allergic contact dermatitis lesions are successfully treated with mid- or high-potency topical steroids, such as triamcinolone 0.1% or clobetasol 0.05%. If allergic contact dermatitis involves an extensive area of skin (greater than 20 percent), systemic steroid therapy is often required and offers relief within 12 to 24 hours. In patients with severe rhus dermatitis, oral prednisone should be tapered over two to three weeks because rapid discontinuation of steroids can cause rebound dermatitis. If treatment fails and the diagnosis or specific allergen remains unknown, patch testing should be performed.
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