The condition where the skin becomes itchy, red and inflamed is known as Dermatitis. There are many forms of dermatitis, to numerous to list here, all with different causes and varying appearance. In some cases the dermatitis may just be a symptom of an underlying condition, for example some forms of leukaemia, but in most cases is the response to some allergic type reaction.
Contact dermatitis is an allergic response to some otherwise normally harmless substance. Unlike other forms of dermatitis the skin is only affected in the area of contact with the allergen and therefore, makes identifying the allergen easy. For example, if the reaction occurs under a nickel watchstrap, an allergy to nickel is likely and future contact with the metal should be avoided to prevent further episodes. Removing the allergen and then cooling the skin with calamine lotion will treat this reaction.
Sensitivity to light causes another form of dermatitis called photo dermatitis. In this form, the individual is effectively allergic to sunlight. The areas that have been exposed to the shortest burst of sunlight take on the appearance of bad sunburn. In addition to an individuals sensitivity to sunlight, the condition can be temporarily induced whilst taking certain medications particularly phenothiazines and sulphonamides. Treatment for this condition is the same as contact dermatitis, in addition, coat any exposed areas of skin with a sun block to prevent the reaction from occurring.
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