How is dermatitis caused?

There are two main kinds of dermatitis:

  • irritant contact dermatitis – caused by substances that physically damage the skin such as wet work, dyes, and shampoos; and
  • allergic contact dermatitis – caused when your body's immune system becomes 'sensitised' to a particular substance, like the latex in some rubber gloves.

Certain airborne chemicals, for example, in aerosols, can cause irritation to the skin, mouth and throat. Sensitisation can occur suddenly, even when you have been working with a substance for years. After you have been sensitised you will have an allergic reaction to even tiny amounts of the substance and may also become allergic to related substances.

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