Contact Dermatitis

Contact Dermatitis Treatment
Advanced Treatment Options in the San Diego Area

Dr. Melanie Palm is a nationally-recognized dermatologist serving patients in the San Diego area. She specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of many skin conditions, such as contact dermatitis, eczema, perioral dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema, and much more. Dr. Palm’s offices are located in Solana Beach, just north of San Diego, CA.

About Contact Dermatitis

Allergic contact dermatitis is a sudden onset skin rash from skin exposure to substance the body has mounted an allergic response to over repeated exposures. The rash develops at the point of skin contact, and the rash will become worse with each future exposure. The skin rash can appear as redness, flakiness, blisters, or open weeping areas.

Occasionally, pigmentation or brown discoloration can occur following skin healing from the initial dermatitis. Nickel (from jewelry, jean buttons), poison ivy (oak, and sumac), neomycin (in Neosporin® antibiotic ointment), fragrances & dyes (in perfume, cosmetics, and hair dyes), and formaldehyde (in acrylic nails and clothing) are just some of the causes of allergic contact dermatitis.

Patients with eczema are at higher risk for developing allergic contact dermatitis. Patch testing is done on the skin to try and determine the cause of allergic contact dermatitis. Treatment consists of avoiding known causes of allergic contact dermatitis, as well as topical treatment, usually with corticosteroids.

Fragrance, dye, and chemical-free soaps and moisturizers are often used in combination with prescription medications to improve the skin barrier and repair the skin. Red diode light, called the Healite II, can be used in the days following contact dermatitis to decrease the redness and inflammation of the skin.

A specific type of contact dermatitis related to plants is termed phytophotodermatitis. Phyto- means plant, photo- means light, and dermatitis means inflammation of the skin. Therefore, this reaction occurs when the skin comes in contact with juices from certain fruits and plants, followed by exposure to sun or light, causing an inflammatory reaction on the skin. Lime (from fruit juices or margaritas) is a common culprit, although parsley, parsnip, fennel, mustard, fig leaves, and St. John's Wort may also cause the reaction.

The skin often exhibits redness and swelling, and sometimes a blistering reaction. Once this subsides, brown discoloration often appears, which may last for weeks to months. Beyond treatment of the skin eruption, sunscreen plays an important role in minimizing pigmentation following the rash.

ID Reaction

ID reaction describes an unusual skin rash that occurs due to extreme inflammation of the skin, usually on the lower legs. An ID reaction appears as diffuse red patches on the extremities that can sometimes even spread onto the trunk. It is a systemic response manifesting as a wide spread rash that is caused by extreme irritation in small area of the skin, typically the lower legs. Contact dermatitis of the lower legs, if untreated, can be a cause of an ID reaction. An ID reaction resolves and is successfully treated when the underlying cause is identified and treated.

If you are in the San Diego area and suffer with contact dermatitis, call Dr. Melanie Palm at 858.792.SKIN (7546) to schedule your appointment and discuss your treatment options.