Occurrence of Contact Eczema
One may handle a material (e.g. rubber gloves, jewelry, cement) for many years with no problems and then suddenly break out in a rash. The rash is not necessarily localized, but may be widespread. If the rash improves, when one is away from home than one can suspect the cause is something in the home. If the rash improves when one is away from the place of regular employment, then the cause may be the material handled at work.
Irritant contact eczema is similar to allergic contact eczema and is caused by frequent contact with everyday substances such as detergents in toiletries or cleaning products.
Some of the main differences between an irritant and allergic contact eczema are:
- An irritant will cause a reaction in everyone who comes in contact with it, while an allergen will trouble only those people with the greatest susceptibility for developing allergic reactions.
- The skin effect from an irritant will be almost immediate - from stinging or burning to caustic burns. There will be no immediate effect from an allergen. The latter takes time to develop. When it does, itching is a prominent symptom.
- Contact eczema seldom manifests itself as red vesicles which combine to form moist patches. Allergic contact dermatitis always results in red vesicles that combine to form moist patches.