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Contact Dermatitis and Atopic Eczema

The difference in pathophysiology between contact dermatitis and atopic eczema

Contact dermatitis is an inflammatory reaction on the skin that is acute and triggered by contact with an irritant or a substance that is allergen-producing. It is neither life-threatening nor contagious. The common parts affected by this disease are those that come into contact with the allergen. Common allergens include smoke, woolen fabrics and acidic foods among many other substances (Grossman & Porth, 2014).On the other hand, atopic eczema is an inflammatory condition that is chronic and triggered by an allergen. Genetic and environmental factors are the key triggers of atopic eczema. Allergic Rhinitis and asthma may also accompany it (Story, 2011).

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Atopic dermatitis is a common disease that always starts during childhood. However, contact dermatitis does not have a particular age. In some cases, during adulthood, many patients may mistakenly be diagnosed with atopic eczema that can be contact dermatitis. Since contact dermatitis is curable, some patients who are undiagnosed use steroids to treat the inflammation (Grossman & Porth, 2014).

The difference between the two diseases can be seen through their symptoms and signs. Itching is a common symptom of atopic eczema. There is a possibility that constant scratching can result in skin splitting making it vulnerable to infection. An individual suffering from this disease will at some point develop pustules. It also leads to complications, such as secondary bacterial infections of the skin, eye problems, discoloration from constant scratching and permanent scarring. Exacerbations and remissions of symptoms are also common with atopic eczema. It is, however, not contagious and cannot be passed on through skin contact (Story, 2011).

On the contrary, the symptoms of contact dermatitis range from mild to severe, especially on the part of the body which has come into contact with the allergen. The symptoms include itching, blisters that ooze fluid, peeling of the skin, rashes, swelling, and tenderness (Story, 2011).

The differences between these two disorders in terms of history and physical examination

When it comes to history and physical examination of contact dermatitis, a detailed account will be of great importance when examining an individual who is a victim. Procedures for diagnosis include a physical examination, history and testing of the allergy, otherwise known as patch testing. Contact dermatitis is treated by identifying and removing the irritant. The rash tends to disappear in 2 to 4 weeks if the offending substance is identified (Grossman & Porth, 2014). The physical examination of this disorder is dependent on the signs and complications that occur on the body as a result of coming into contact with the allergens.

Similarly, a history of the patient and a physical examination are factors that will determine whether the patient is suffering from atopic eczema or not. The diagnostic procedures for this disease include family history, allergy testing and skin biopsy to rule out other causes. In addition, the health and age of the patient are critical indicators when it comes to treatment (Story, 2011).

Other things that are taken into consideration are the extent of the allergic reaction, specific medication tolerance and the opinion of the patient as far as this disorder is concerned. After the examination, the treatment given can help in reducing itching, skin inflammation and assist in moisturizing the skin since the disease has no cure (Grossman & Porth, 2014).

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Grossman, S., & Porth, C. (2014). Porth’s pathophysiology: Concepts of altered health states.

Story, L. (2011). Pathophysiology. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

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