What is irritant contact dermatitis?
Irritant contact dermatitis (ICD) is inflammation of the skin that arises with exposure to certain substances. It must be differentiated from allergic contact dermatitis where the skin inflammation develops due to an allergy to certain substances. Dermatitis is a term for skin inflammation that typically presents with a skin rash (redness, swelling, dryness, peeling or scaling skin). There are many different types of dermatitis. Contact dermatitis arises when certain skin irritants or allergenic substances makes contact with the skin thereby giving rise to irritant or allergic contact dermatitis respectively.
Irritant contact dermatitis is known by many common names such as sensitive skin, chemical rash, dishpan hands or housewives’ eczema. The latter two terms are in reference to exposure to soaps and detergents which are more common among dishwashers and home executives. However, many of these common terms are also used to describe related skin diseases. Another term that also frequently used is hand dermatitis since irritant contact dermatitis more frequently affects the skin of the hands and fingers. It is not a specific predilection for this part of the body but rather as a consequence of the hands being in touch with various substances which may be irritants.