By Ana Theresa Williams BSN RN
Dermatologist Victoria “Vicky” Guillano, MD said skin problems such as contact dermatitis should be detected and prevented earlier to avoid further health problems.
Contact dermatitis is one of the common skin diseases found among Filipinos. It is red, itchy rash caused by direct contact with a substance or an allergic reaction. The rash isn’t contagious or life-threatening, but it can be very uncomfortable, the skin expert said.
“Many substances can cause such reactions, including soaps, cosmetics, fragrances, jewelry and plants.” Dr. Guillano said, adding that some of these substances may cause both irritant contact dermatitis and allergic contact der-matitis:”
Irritant contact derma-titis is the most common type. This nonallergic skin reaction occurs when a substance damages your skin’s outer protective layer. Irritant contact dermatitis is the most common type. This nonallergic skin reaction occurs when a substance damages your skin’s outer protective layer.
Some people react to strong irritants after a single exposure. Others may develop signs and symp-toms after repeated expo-sures to even mild irritants. And some people develop a tolerance to the substance over time.
Common irritants include solvents; rubbing alcohol; bleach and detergents; shampoos, permanent wave solutions; airborne substances like sawdust or wool dust; plants; and fertilizers and pesticides.
On the other hand, allergic contact dermatitis occurs when a substance to which you’re sensitive (allergen) triggers an immune reaction in your skin. It usually affects only the area that came into contact with the allergen. But it may be triggered by something that enters your body through foods, flavorings, medicine, or medical or dental proce-dures (systemic contact dermatitis).
Common allergens include nickel that is used in jewelry, buckles and many other items; medi-cations like antibiotic creams and oral antihis-tamines; Balsam of Peru that is used in many products like perfumes, cosmetics, mouth rinses and flavorings; formal-dehyde that is in preservatives, disinfectants and clothing; personal care products like deodorants, body washes, hair dyes, cosmetics and nail polish; plants like mango that contain allergenic substance called urushiol; airborne substances like spray insecticides; and products that can cause a reaction when you’re in the sun like photoallergic contact dermatitis, such as some sunscreens and oral medications.
She said children develop the condition from the usual offenders and also from exposure to diapers, baby wipes, sunscreens, clothing with snaps or dyes, and so on.
The skin specialist said you can prevent skin problems. “Yes, you can prevent it by simply avoiding those contac-tants or substances that can cause skin reactions.”
The following are the general prevention tips shared by Dr. Guillano:
Avoid irritants and allergens. Try to identify and avoid substances that irritate your skin or cause an allergic reaction.
Wash your skin. You might be able to remove most of the rash-causing substance if you wash your skin right away after coming into contact with it. Use a mild, fragrance-free soap and warm water. Rinse completely.
Wear protective clo-thing or gloves. Face masks, goggles, gloves and other protective items can shield you from irritating substances, including household cleansers.
Use moisturizer. Regularly applying mois-turizing lotions can help restore your skin’s outer-most layer and keep your skin supple.
Meanwhile, every second week of November is celebrated as National Skin Disease Detection and Prevention Week per Proclamation No. 110 in 2001 under the auspices of the Philippine Dermato-logical Society (PDS).
Several dermatolo-gists, PDS members, residents and consultants will join to give their free consultation and medica-tions to some patients. Free dermatology clinics will be held in various barangay health centers, parishes, schools and city halls in key cities throughout the country, with PDS mem-bers giving free consul-tations and free medicine.
The event will be held on November 21, from 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon, at Sto. Nino Chapel, Bago Aplaya, Sto. Nino Seaside, Davao City. It will be participated by medical specialists of the skin such as Dr. Victoria Guillano and Alexian Brothers Health and Wellness Center Outreach person-nel. “I have been doing this yearly with them usually with an estimated number of patients from 100 to 150 of them,” Dr. Guillano said.
Also, the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC)-PDS Derma Department will have their free clinic on November 22 in Agdao, Davao City, but the venue will be announced later, she said.