Epidemiology of Contact Dermatology

Epidemiology of Contact Dermatology


By Dr. K S Ram , Dermatology

Contact allergies are complex diseases, and one of the important challenges for public health and immunology. It’s an inflammatory reaction due to skin contact with chemical substances. Contact dermatitis and irritant contact dermatitis are more common in women than in men.

Possible Causes:

  • Hands are the most important sites of this. It is due to repeated workplace exposure of the hands to soaps, cleansers, and solvents as these are the sources of most disorders.
  • Risk factors identified for the same were workplace exposure, age, sex, use of consumer products etc.

Signs and Symptoms:

  1. Acute allergic contact dermatitis is characterized by pruritic papules and vesicles on an erythematous base.
  2. Individuals with allergic contact dermatitis typically develop the condition within a few days of exposure, in areas that were exposed directly to the allergen, but in certain cases the onset of the same is delayed for up to a week following exposure.

How to identify the same?

The local lymph node assay (LLNA) is the validated method of choice for hazard identification and characterisation.

Risk factors for allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) can be divided into acquired and inherent. Acquired risk factors are generally inflammatory skin diseases such as irritant contact dermatitis (ICD), stasis dermatitis and possibly atopic dermatitis, while inherent risk factors are genetic variances resulting in a higher susceptibility.


No diagnosis test exists for irritant contact dermatitis but at the same time treatment of both (allergic and irritant dermatitis) is the identification and removal of any potential casual agents and it’s advisable to use ceramide creams after washing hands with soap and before sleep. Treatments also include the following-

  1. Corticosteroids: Topical corticosteroids are the mainstay of treatment. Dermatitis which is acute such as from poison often needs to be treated with a 2 week course of this.
  2. Phototherapy: It is for the individuals with chronic allergic contact dermatitis that is not well treated by other solutions. These patients may benefit from treatment with combination of psoralen and ultraviolet-A
  3. Disulfiram: An individual who is highly allergic to nickel and has severe hand dermatitis will benefit from treatment with disulfiram, this drug has chelating effect.

It is important to consult a dermatologist before going ahead with any diagnostic process and treatment.