Just Eves
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Housewife's Dermatitis

DEFINITION

The suffix 'itis' signifies Inflammation. Thus dermatitis is the inflammation of the skin. Skin inflammation caused due to contact with an irritating substance. Contact dermatitis is not contagious.

BODY PARTS INVOLVED

Skin, especially of the hands, feet and groin.

SEX OR AGE MOST AFFECTED

All ages, but more common in women.

SIGNS & SYMPTOMS

  • Itching (sometimes).
  • Slight redness.
  • Cracks and fissures in the skin.
  • Bright red, areas, which ooze (severe cases).

CAUSES

  • Contact with irritants, such as detergents, sprays, acids or solvents. The irritant removes the fatty layer of skin. This causes dehydration and shrinking of surface cells.
  • Jewelry of some metals.
  • Plants in rare cases.

RISK INCREASES WITH

  • Constant exposure to hot water, detergents, or any irritant that changes the moisture content of skin.
  • Burns from hot water or sunburn.

HOW TO PREVENT

  • Avoid contact with any irritant, which has caused dermatitis in the past.
  • Protect skin from burns, especially sunburns.

DIAGNOSTIC MEASURES

  • Typical symptoms.
  • History and physical exam by a doctor.

POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS

Pain and disfigurement of hands from constant lesions.

PROBABLE OUTCOME

Symptoms can be controlled with treatment and avoidance of the irritant. Recurrence is common, so treatment may be necessary for years.

TREATMENT

GENERAL MEASURES

  • Avoid the chemical or material causing the skin eruption.
  • Use glycerin-based soap instead of ordinary soap for bathing.
  • Pat skin dry rather than rub it dry.
  • Use lukewarm water for bathing.
  • Only creams, lotions or ointments prescribed by your doctor should be used. Commercial preparations may aggravate the condition. Just because a product has HERBAL written or pictures of some plants does not make it safe. Apply ointment or cream to the affected part 6 or 7 times a day. For other body parts, lubricate twice a day, especially after bathing.
  • Try using cotton-lined vinyl gloves to prevent contact with irritating substances such as: water; soap; detergent; metal scouring pads; scouring powder and polish for floors, furniture or metal like brass, copper and silver.
  • Dry the insides of gloves after use. Discard gloves if they develop a hole.
  • Wear gloves when you peel or squeeze lemons, oranges, grapefruit, tomatoes or potatoes.
  • Be careful while washing dishes.
  • Remove rings before doing housework or washing hands. 

MEDICATION

Your may be prescribed topical creams, ointments or lotions. These may include steroid preparations to reduce inflammation or lubricants to preserve moisture.

ACTIVITY

Resume your normal activities gradually as irritation subsides.

DIET

No special diet.

CONTACT YOUR DOCTOR, IF

  • You develop fever.
  • Signs of infection (swelling, tenderness, redness, warmth) develop at the site of irritation.
  • Treatment does not relieve symptoms in 1 week.
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