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Contact dermatitis

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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Contact dermatitis is an inflammatory condition of the skin, resulting from exposure to an external agent acting as either an allergen or an irritant (1).

The terms dermatitis and eczema is often used interchangeably.

  • both terms are used to describe a polymorphic pattern of cutaneous inflammation that, in the acute phase, is characterized by erythema and vesiculation and, in the chronic phase, by dryness, lichenification and fissuring
  • however atopic dermatitis (eczema) is an endogenous inflammatory skin condition while external factors are responsible for contact dermatitis (1)

Two forms of contact dermatitis have been recognised:

  • irritant contact dermatitis
  • allergic contact dermatitis (1)


  • in clinical practice, atopic dermatitis and contact dermatitis can often exist simultaneously, especially in hand and foot eczema (1).


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The content herein is provided for informational purposes and does not replace the need to apply professional clinical judgement when diagnosing or treating any medical condition. A licensed medical practitioner should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions.


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