Allergic Contact Dermatitis: Frequently Asked Questions
1. What does it look like?
It is a rash that is typically red, itchy, and scaly that resembles eczema. It can also cause swelling when it affects eyelids.
2. What causes it?
Preservatives and fragrances found in personal care products such as shampoos, conditioners, body washes, soaps, facial cleansers and detergent are among the most common causes. Other culprits include sunscreens, metals, cortisones, hair dyes and nail polish.
3. When will it go away?
This will vary. After the offending agent is stopped, it usually takes two to eight weeks for the rash to subside. But often it can take up to three to six months for the rash to completely dissipate.
4. How can I just suddenly develop an allergy? I have not been using any new products. I have been using the same product for years.
Allergic contact dermatitis develops after "chronic sensation." This means that after repeated long term exposure to the allergen, the body suddenly develops an allergy. It often occurs after may years of being exposed to the allergen.
5. I only flare up with a rash once a month, but I use my shampoo that you say I am allergic to every day. How could this be? Contact dermatitis typically has flare ups and then quiet periods of remissions, even if the offending agent is being used.
6. I used my shampoo five days ago but the rash only started last night - how could this be?
Contact dermatitis is a "delayed hypersensitivity reaction." Often it can take up to one week for the rash to come out after the offending agent is used.