Contact dermatitis refers to inflammation of the dermis and epidermis as a result of direct contact between a substance and the surface of the skin. In fact, almost all dermatitis is the result of skin surface injury from epicutaneous exposures. Contact dermatitis is divided into two broad categories: irritant contact dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis. Irritants cause immediate inflammation of the skin; allergens cause an inflammatory response that is delayed by days.
This topic will discuss irritant and allergic contact dermatitis in children. Contact dermatitis in adults is discussed separately.
IRRITANT CONTACT DERMATITIS
Irritant contact dermatitis results from exposure to substances that cause physical, mechanical, or chemical irritation of the skin. Diaper dermatitis and dry skin dermatitis are two common forms of irritant contact dermatitis in children.
Diaper dermatitis — Diaper dermatitis is the prototype for irritant contact dermatitis in children. (See "Overview of diaper dermatitis in infants and children".)