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Understanding Some Common Triggers for Allergic Contact Dermatitis and How to Avoid Them

What Exactly is Allergic Contact Dermatitis?

Allergic contact dermatitis is characterized by the presence of a red rash after coming into contact with a triggering object. The rash may or may not be itchy, and other common symptoms include inflammation, the presence of clear fluid, crusting, blistering or the presence of pustules, crusting, unusual dryness or peeling.

Most cases of allergic contact dermatitis, like those caused by contact with poison oak or poison ivy, are often acute, while others may develop chronic allergies in which breakouts of this condition may recur continually throughout their lifetime. Anybody who believes that they may be suffering from allergic contact dermatitis, whether acute or chronic, should reach out to a dermatologist in Palo Alto, who may be able to help identify the source of the reaction as well as provide a skin treatment in Walnut Creek that can help alleviate the symptoms.

That said, when it comes to allergic contact dermatitis, the best policy is to avoid contact with any objects or products that contain or consist of the irritating agent. As such, this article is going to outline some common sources of reactions related to allergic contact dermatitis as well as the type of goods that they are commonly found in so that sufferers can know what types of things they should avoid touching.

Common Triggers for Sufferers to Avoid

Nickel and Other Metals

One of the metals that people tend to experience an allergic reaction to most commonly is nickel, and this is especially true of children, teens or people in their twenties.

However, even people who have a known allergy to nickel may accidentally come into nickel without knowing it since it is such a common component in the types of alloy metals like zippers, belt buttons, jewelry, cookware, coins and even the materials used for many types of orthopedic joint replacement. Some types of food, including chocolate, even contain trace amounts of nickel. In addition, since cobalt is so often paired with nickel, some people who experience an allergic reaction to nickel can also experience a reaction to cobalt by proxy.

While not as common of a trigger as nickel, some people will often experience allergic symptoms when exposed to chromium salts, which are commonly found in many types of paints, and well as cement-based mixes and anything made of natural leather.

Poison Oak and Poison Ivy

Hands down, one of the most common sources of allergic contact dermatitis reactions in through contact with the resin of either poison oak or poison ivy plant.

This is because the sap of these plant varieties contains a unique component called urushiol that is naturally irritating to human beings. This means that almost anybody will suffer a reaction should they accidentally come into contact with these plants, and thus should take precautions to understand how to identify and avoid them, especially when spending time outdoors or in nature. As such, people who work outdoors are especially prone to experiencing this type of unique condition.

Keep in mind that the reaction from this type of contact may be delayed by many hours or not even appear until days after contact. Washing the area with a gentle soap soon after contact will help prevent the spread of the reaction and minimize the symptoms.


This popular preservative agent will often produce an allergic reaction in adults and children alike and can be found as an ingredient in many commonly used household products.

The list of things that might contain formaldehyde includes certain types of vaccines, adhesive agents, cigarettes, permanent press clothing, aspartame, as well as many types of personal care and disinfectant products. It is also a key ingredient in embalming fluid.

Other Common Preservatives

Isothiazolinones are a type of preservative that is used to limit a product’s exposure to both light and oxygen, both of which can speed up the aging process. The addition of the types of agents also inhibit the growth of fungi as well as bacteria in many common household products.

The type of isothiazolinones most commonly associated with allergic contact dermatitis includes methylchloroisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone, which are commonly referred to as MCI and MI, respectively. They will often be listed amongst the ingredients in hygienic products like moistened towelette tissues, including baby wipes, as well as many types of body wash, shampoo and cosmetic products.


It is not uncommon for people to be sensitive to perfume products, and this may be especially true if the barriers of the skin are broken or disrupted in some way or another as is the case with conditions like atopic dermatitis.

Perfumes in fragrances are used in a myriad of goods that are often used on a daily basis including perfumes, cosmetics, toothpaste and even as a flavoring in many different types of food, particularly processed varieties.

Antibacterial Ointments

While these commonly used topical products are generally of beneficial use, in that they help to treat open scratches and wounds, both working to prevent infection and speed the healing process.

However, they also can be an allergic trigger for some people who suffer from allergic contact dermatitis. If this is the case, they will want to be sure to ask their dermatologist in San Francisco about alternative treatment options that may be available for use in these types of situations.


The allergy-causing potential of paraphenylenediamine, commonly referred to as PPD, is so great that this sensitizing chemical is actually banned in products that people need to touch to use.

However, it is still a common component in many types of hair-dye as well as many black shoe dyes. It can also sometimes be found in the type of products that are not well-regulated including the type of temporary black hen tattoos that are commonly dispensed to children. In can also trigger a reaction when it comes into contact with some common types of medications, such as antihistamines, for example.

Things to Keep In Mind

For anybody experiencing a reaction, scratching and rubbing the area will only increase the duration and severity of the symptoms experienced.

Anybody who is having difficulty identifying the source of a recurring condition or is experiencing discomfort as a result of their symptoms should speak to a skin doctor in Roseville to learn more about what types of skin treatment in Walnut Creek may be available.

Disclaimer: We are unable to guarantee any result, even though most of our patients do see success. The results of our services will vary greatly to each patient’s level of commitment and compliance with the program.

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