Irritant contact dermatitis 

Irritant contact dermatitis is the most common type of contact dermatitis. Usually irritant contact dermatitis builds up over time, after regular exposure to skin irritants.

Skin dryness is usually the first sign and often starts in the web spaces between the fingers. The hands are the most common site for irritant contact dermatitis to occur.

The most common causes of irritant contact dermatitis are:

  • Example or irritant contact dermatitis

    Water and wet work. Prolonged contact of the skin with water – especially when the hands are repeatedly wet and then dry, is very irritating to the skin.

  • Soaps and detergents
  • Heat and sweating
  • Dusts and fibres
  • Chemicals such as solvents and thinners
  • Grease, oils, fuels
  • People working in the following industries, especially those jobs which involve lots of ‘wet work’ and frequent contact with chemicals, are at highest risk. These include:

    • Food handling
    • Hair and beauty
    • Healthcare
    • Mechanical and metal working
    • Construction