Airborne contact dermatitis is a type of contact dermatitis, which is mainly caused by an allergic response to the plant Congress Grass. Learn about the causes, symptoms, and treatment.
The causative plant for airborne contact dermatitis is Parthenium hysterophorus (Congress Grass). This plant was accidentally introduced all over the world through contaminated wheat shipments and now it has spread to the nook and corner of the world. Thus, the cases of Parthenium dermatitis have been reported from all over the world.
The main allergen responsible for allergic contact dermatitis has been identified as sesquiterpene lactones. Upon entry into the skin, the parthenium antigen is taken up by the antigen presenting cells in the skin, which transport the allergen to regional lymph nodes where it is presented to T-lymphocytes. Subsequently, T-cell clonal proliferation takes place and it leads to infiltration of T-lymphocytes into re-exposed skin sites with resultant development of cutaneous inflammation.
The allergens present in plant dust, debris and pollens may cause hay fever, allergic rhinitis, asthma or dermatitis. In most cases, Parthenium dermatitis initially involves the eyelids, suggesting that the airborne allergens lodge in the skin folds and cause dermatitis. A seasonal variation is observed, initially with exacerbation in the summer corresponding to the growing season and disappearance in winters. A spectrum of the clinical pattern ranging from airborne contact dermatitis (ABCD) to severe erythroderma (more than 90% body surface area involvement) may develop.
Various measures aimed at markedly reducing the antigen or allergen load on the skin includes the following:
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Airborne contact dermatitis is an acute or chronic dermatitis of the body's exposed regions, such as the face. This dermatitis is primarily caused by the particles that are suspended in the air. These particles include fibers, dust, vapors, pollens, sprays, gases, and plant materials.
The treatment of airborne contact dermatitis includes the following:
- Steroid creams or ointments to soothe the rashes of contact dermatitis.
- Oral medications to reduce inflammation and relieve itching.
Any person affected by an allergic contact dermatitis presents with symptoms such as skin reddening, oozing blisters filled with fluid. The fluid-filled inside the blisters is not contagious and does not spread to other regions of the body or other people in contact. Thus, it is not normal for a contact dermatitis to spread.
The following are certain remedies that can help in fast healing of contact dermatitis:
- Usage of cool compresses.
- Cleaning the affected area frequently.
- Over-the-counter creams.
- Antihistamine tablets or creams.
- Lukewarm baths.
- Avoid scratching of itchy regions.
- Usage of moisturizer.
Hydrocortisone ointment is the medication that doctors frequently recommend to treat mild eczema. The affected individuals need different formulations of these steroids based on the location and the severity of the rash.
Under normal circumstances, the rashes caused by contact dermatitis usually get resolved in two to four weeks. Faster relief can be achieved by soothing the person's skin with cold or wet compresses or by using anti-itch creams and other self-care measures.
Yes, contact dermatitis can aggravate with heat. If the affected individual already has irritant contact dermatitis symptoms, they can be aggravated by factors such as heat, cold, friction, and low humidity.
Yes, contact dermatitis usually spreads to other regions of the body. Dermatitis can spread through the fluid from the blisters caused by contact dermatitis. It can also spread to other people in contact with the affected person.
Allergic contact dermatitis usually spreads over time. It is mainly due to delayed reactions of the allergens. Heavily contaminated areas break out initially, which is then followed by the areas of lesser exposure.
Scratching the itchy regions of the rashes can make the sores to expose. This can lead to the development of infections. These skin infections are highly contagious, and can even become life-threatening.
The following are the various situations where you should consult your doctor when you have dermatitis:
- When the rash is sudden in onset and associated with severe pain.
- When the rash is widespread.
- When the rashes do not get resolved within a period of three weeks.
- When the rash affects the person's face or genitals.
Yes, aloe vera can relieve contact dermatitis in mild cases. The reason behind this is that aloe vera gel works as a natural antibacterial moisturizer. Using aloe vera in patients affected with eczema can help in hydration of the skin and significantly reduce the risk of eczema.
Contact irritant dermatitis can appear in different forms, primarily based on the conditions of exposure. The common symptoms are as follows:
- A scarlet red rash.
- Itching can be severe.
- The skin may look very dry, cracked, and scaly.
- Bumps and blisters, which can be noted to ooze and crust.
- Severe burning and associated pain.
The US National Eczema Association has confirmed that Vaseline Jelly Original can be used in eczema patients and people who are affected with sensitive skin conditions. The use of petroleum jelly on the rashes can help in relieving the dry skin symptoms.
The following includes the natural remedies of contact dermatitis:
- Coconut oil.
- Vitamin E.
- Aloe vera.
- Cold compress.
In most people who have been affected with contact dermatitis, the rashes get resolved as soon as the allergic or irritant substance is removed from contact with the skin. The affected individual is also advised to avoid scratching the irritated skin because scratching can aggravate the condition and may lead to a skin infection. This would later require antibiotic treatment.
Last reviewed at:
12 Aug 2019 - 1 min read
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