Wound-Related Allergic/Irritant Contact Dermatitis

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To provide information from a literature review about the prevention, recognition, and treatment for contact dermatitis.


This continuing education activity is intended for physicians and nurses with an interest in skin and wound care.


After participating in this educational activity, the participant should be better able to:


1. Identify signs and symptoms of and diagnostic measures for contact dermatitis.


2. Identify causes and risks for contact dermatitis.


3. Select appropriate treatment for contact dermatitis and its prevention.


Contact dermatitis to wound care products is a common, often neglected problem. A review was conducted to identify articles relevant to contact dermatitis.


A PubMed English-language literature review was conducted for appropriate articles published between January 2000 and December 2015.


Contact dermatitis is both irritant (80% of cases) or allergic (20% of cases). Frequent use of potential contact allergens and impaired barrier function of the skin can lead to rising sensitization in patients with chronic wounds. Common known allergens to avoid in wound care patients include fragrances, colophony, lanolin, and topical antibiotics.


Clinicians should be cognizant of the allergens in wound care products and the potential for sensitization. All medical devices, including wound dressings, adhesives, and bandages, should be labeled with their complete ingredients, and manufacturers should be encouraged to remove common allergens from wound care products, including topical creams, ointments, and dressings.

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