Saturday, June 18, 2011

Contact dermatitis...a suprising culprit , I've learned!

Salam & Hi,

I've been to family medicine posting for just a week and there are a lot of common-everday problems I saw at the outpatient clinic. It is interesting because these problems usually does not need admission and requires simpler management.

Here I would like to share a case that is quite common due to misunderstanding and white lie given by the advertising company regarding the everyday soap for bathing or hand washing.

Clinical Scenario:

Source of picture:Wikimedia Commons

A 51 years old senior police officer came with first onset of generalised pruritus (itchiness) for a month. It is more severe at his limbs and abdominal area. It also cause him to have dry skin.

On further questioning on possible allergen contact he denied any allergy towards food,dust,aerosol, current detergent,animals etc. He did not engaged in recent outdoor activites like swimming, travelling or jungle tracking. Moreover, his occupation nature requires him to be inside an air-conditioned room. However he mentioned that he had changed his bathing soap to a antimicrobial soap recently ( I won't mention the brand here...but, it is the commonest anti-microbial being advertised nationwide)

He did seek medical help from private clinic and was given topical cream. His problem relieved by the appliance of the cream temporarily but the symptom persist afterwards.

Other medical illness: sinusitis under medication. There is no chronic illness

He does not smoke or consume alcohol.No fever, loss of appetite or weight. There is no other significance found on other history asked.

On examination of his skin : There skin looks dry with scratch marks.There is no abnormality of the skin indicting skin infection or atopy.

What could be the possible cause of his problem????
* from history, he is not allergic to any possible allergen
* there is no sign of infection

However, the answer is : THE ANTI-MICROBIAL BATHING SOAP!!!

Reason: Anti microbial bathing soap have strong anti microbial properties but LACK of MOISTURIZER. It may not cause problem to younger people since the skin can still produce some naturel moisturizer itself. However, in older people,it will cause dryness of skin and eventually DERMATITIS!!

* Eventhough, Malaysia have high humidity index, our skin still need some moisturizer effect!

So, plan of management:
1. Stop using 'the soap'. Choose a normal soap with good moisturizer properties.
2. Give anti-histamine (Piritone)
3, Moisturizer aqueous to be applied to dry skin
4. Steroid(Hydrocortisone) cream to be applied at the MOST itchy part.
5. Do come back if the symptom persist after a week...(it may due to other cause)

Take home message:
* Choose your hygiene care product that suitable for your skin. If there is any signs of irritation i.e ithciness do change to another product.
* anti-microbial soap is not to be used regularly in people with dry skin type and elderly.

p/s: this case is quite common in primary health care due to lack of knowledge on this kind of matter.
other cause of contact dermatitis : sun light and specific allergens(metals, jewellery...etc)


armouris said...

more info on contact dermatitis here - Contact Dermatitis and Emollients

nur_aishah said...

Thank you for sharing the website with this post.. It is very informative.

.a n n e f t i n a. said...

I'd this kind of rashes on my arm once. It comes right after I'm using one of the antimicrobial soap but I want to mention it here bcoz I'd it. I used Lifeboy. On the first place, I thought that maybe it's becoz my skin is not getting used with the soap yet since I used other soap b4 that. But when I use Lifeboy over n over, then I got itchiness, widespread rashes, scratches,...My skin become more n more severe...huhu... So,I stop using it and change with the previous one n everything's normal then.. huhu...Alhamdulillah...

nur_aishah said...

yes anneftina, microbial soap is appropriate on certain basis. not suitable for all people to used on daily basis as bathing since they lack of moisturiser...

thanks for sharing your experience on this.