Exposure to certain chemicals include household products used at home or in the workplace can trigger various reactions especially on the skin. Chemicals can cause skin rashes or dermatitis in two different mechanisms. Allergic contact dermatitis can occur once the body reacts to exposure with any object or substance in which it developed an allergic sensitivity to.
When it comes to irritant contact dermatitis, it occurs once the skin is exposed to an irritant. It simply means that certain substances strips away the protective oils and cause damage to the skin. Various chemicals are capable of triggering one or both of these reactions.
Natural latex is considered as a common allergen. Various chemicals utilized in manufacturing rubber are capable of triggering allergic contact dermatitis. The rubber accelerators which are chemicals utilized to speed up the manufacturing process are typically linked with rubber contact allergies.
It is important to note that skin rashes can develop due to exposure to various products that contain rubber including balloons, garden hoses and condoms. Latex allergy is a special issue for healthcare professionals who depend on gloves to maintain sanitary conditions in workplace. Those who work in these environments should inquire if a patient has any latex sensitivity before handling.
Cosmetics such as makeup, sunscreen, aftershave and shampoos often contain fragrances that cause allergic contact dermatitis. Even the “unscented” cosmetics can trigger contact dermatitis since they often contain perfumes that are masked. Products that are labelled as “fragrance-free” are more likely to be safe for those who have allergic reactions to fragrances.
Some cosmetics can also trigger a rash by irritating the skin, instead of causing an allergic response. Those who have sensitive skin can suffer from irritant allergic dermatitis as a response to certain cosmetic gels and solutions.
Acidic or alkaline substances
Strong chemicals such as hydrochloric acid or alkaline chemicals such as sodium hydroxide can cause damage to the skin surface and trigger irritant contact dermatitis. Remember that saliva is also alkaline and has been observed to trigger irritant dermatitis in infants.
Detergents and soaps
Irritant contact dermatitis can manifest due to constant exposure to a mild irritant such as detergent or soap. Prolonged hand washing can trigger the condition since it strips away the skin’s oil which causes the skin to dry out and peel, flake or even crack. Understandably, the skin is even more susceptible as the irritants penetrate the upper skin layer via these cracks and trigger irritation in the deeper layers.
Soaps and detergents that include fragrances can cause also trigger allergic contact dermatitis among those who have sensitivity to fragrance.
In case the skin reactions seem to get worse or persists for an extended period, it is best to consult a doctor so that proper assessment can be carried out.