Contact Dermatitis Risk Factors

Written by The Healthline Editorial Team & Jaime Herndon | Published on September 15, 2014
Medically Reviewed by George T. Krucik, MD, MBA on September 15, 2014

Risk Factors for Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a type of rash or inflammation of the skin. It can be caused by an allergic reaction or by irritants. The rash does not always appear immediately. It may take some time to develop, even hours later. Contact dermatitis can be uncomfortable or embarrassing, but it’s treatable. Knowing your risk factors can help you take precautions to reduce your risk of developing the condition.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis

If you have a history of any allergy, you’re more likely to develop allergic contact dermatitis. Children who have a food allergy are more likely to have a skin allergy, especially atopic dermatitis (eczema).

People with existing skin disorders like eczema, psoriasis, acne, or others are also more likely to get contact dermatitis.

Irritant Contact Dermatitis

Approximately 80 percent of contact dermatitis cases are irritant contact dermatitis. Unlike allergic contact dermatitis, the immune system is not triggered in this kind. It’s simply an inflammatory skin reaction.

People who work with their skin submerged in water on a regular basis are more likely to develop irritant contact dermatitis. This is because the water strips the skin of protective oils. The same is true for people who work outdoors or with high levels of heat. Examples include:

  • cooks and chefs
  • welders
  • glass blowers
  • farmers
  • factory workers
  • hair stylists
  • construction workers
  • healthcare workers
  • lifeguards

Women are more likely to develop irritant contact dermatitis. This is not because of any inherent gender characteristic. It’s simply due to the fact that women disproportionately fill occupations where contact dermatitis is more prevalent, like hairdressing or nursing.

Repeated use of irritants can also increase sensitivity to contact dermatitis. While initial use of something like contact lens solution or wearing a watch containing nickel may not trigger an immediate response, repeated use can increase your risk for contact dermatitis.

Sunlight can also be a risk factor. Certain contact dermatitis allergens are photosensitizers. This means they only cause a skin reaction after they are exposed to sunlight. Common photosensitizers are perfumes and aftershave lotions that contain certain oils. Soaps, detergents, and sunscreens can also cause skin reactions. Even certain fruits and vegetables, like limes, celery, and figs, may be triggers. Some oral medications, including tetracycline and doxycycline, also cause the skin to react with sunlight.

Outlook

While there is no way to completely prevent either kind of contact dermatitis, you can take steps to reduce your risk. See what you can do to protect your skin if your job exposes you to irritants. If you are prone to allergies, talk with your allergist about how to avoid allergic contact dermatitis. 

Was this article helpful? Yes No

Thank you.

Your message has been sent.

We're sorry, an error occurred.

We are unable to collect your feedback at this time. However, your feedback is important to us. Please try again later.

Article Sources:

More on Healthline

Lifestyle Changes to Help Manage COPD
Lifestyle Changes to Help Manage COPD
Leading a healthy lifestyle can make a big difference in your COPD symptoms. Learn more about basic changes that will make it easier to manage your COPD.
Migraine vs. Chronic Migraine: What Are the Differences?
Migraine vs. Chronic Migraine: What Are the Differences?
There is not just one type of migraine. Chronic migraine is one subtype of migraine. Understand what sets these two conditions apart.
The Best Multiple Sclerosis iPhone and Android Apps of the Year
The Best Multiple Sclerosis iPhone and Android Apps of the Year
These best multiple sclerosis apps provide helpful information and tools to keep track of your symptoms, including medication reminders.
Seasonal Allergies and COPD: Tips to Avoid Complications
Seasonal Allergies and COPD: Tips to Avoid Complications
For COPD patients, allergies pose the risk of serious complications. Learn some basic tips for avoiding allergy-related complications of COPD in this slideshow.
Common Asthma Triggers and How to Avoid Them
Common Asthma Triggers and How to Avoid Them
Learn about some of the most common triggers for asthma, as well as measures you can take to minimize your risk of exposure, symptoms, and flares.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement