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Causes

Contact dermatitis occurs when your skin reacts to a particular substance.

This can be either:

Irritant contact dermatitis

Irritant contact dermatitis may be caused by frequent exposure to a weak irritant, such as soap or detergent. It may also develop if you've been in contact with a stronger irritant for a short while.

You're at an increased risk of irritant contact dermatitis if you also have atopic eczema, which is the most common form of eczema. 

Common irritants include:

If you already have irritant contact dermatitis symptoms, they can be made worse by heat, cold, friction (rubbing against the irritant) and low humidity (dry air).

Exposure at work 

You may be more at risk of irritant contact dermatitis if you work with irritants as part of your job, or if your job involves a lot of wet work.

If you develop the condition because of a substance you work with, it may be referred to as occupational irritant dermatitis.

This type of dermatitis is more common in certain occupations, including:

Allergic contact dermatitis

The first time you come into contact with an allergen, your body becomes sensitised to it, but does not react to it. It's only when you're exposed to the substance again that your immune system reacts and causes the skin to become red and itchy.

Allergens that commonly cause allergic contact dermatitis include: