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36 Sanford Street
Fairfield, CT

115 Technology Drive
Trumbull, CT

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Contact Dermatitis or Eczema is a chronic inflammatory and itchy skin condition that occurs from a hypersensitivity reaction to chemical substances in contact with the skin. It may occur anywhere on the body, but hands, eyelids, face and neck are the most common sites. Being hypersensitive to an allergen means only a few molecules areneeded to trigger an allergic reaction. Eczema  has an appearance that changes, depending upon its duration. In the early stages, it appears red, swollen, sometime oozing with small blisters. As the rash becomes more chronic, the redness fades, the skin becomes darker and thickened and develops white, flaky scales. At all stages, the rash itches. Substances causing contact dermatitis include fragrance, metals, preservatives, hair colorings, sunscreens and formaldehyde releasing substances in personal care products. Offending substances can be identified with a simple patch test. Treatment usually requires topical steroids and in severe cases, oral steroids. Some cases of contact dermatitis do not respond to treatment because of allergy to the topical steroid. This can also be determined by the patch test. Allergic contact dermatitis cannot be distinguished from irritant dermatitis by examination alone. Irritants are chemicals that are toxic to the skin and will damage the skin in all normal individuals if a significant amount of exposure occurs. Allergens, in contrast, affect only a small percentage of people, and those people who are not allergic can have unlimited exposure without adverse effects. Long term use of topical steroids must be monitored to prevent thiniing of the skin. Newer medications such as  calcineurin inhibitors are topical intermediate strength treatments that do not thin the skin the way steroids do. Only a patch test can determine if there is a hypersensitivity or allergy to a substance. Eyelid dermatitis is usually caused by a substance transferred from the hands to the face. Common substances include acrylic in nail polishes and artificial nails, fragrances from soaps, sunscreens, preservative and occasionally metals found in cosmetics. People with environmental allergies can also develop eyelid eczema for unclear reasons. If you have recurring dermatitis, we can identify the cause and begin effective treatment that will minimize the risk of recurrence. To learn more about our services or to make an appointment, click here.