John Libbey Eurotext

European Journal of Dermatology


Contact dermatitis II. Clinical aspects and diagnosis Volume 9, issue 2, March 1999


See all figures

INSERM U. 503, Faculté de Médecine Lyon RTH Laennec, rue Guillaume-Paradin, 69372 Lyon Cedex 08, France.
  • Key words: contact sensitivity, contact dermatitis, haptens.
  • Page(s) : 144-60
  • Published in: 1999

Contact dermatitis (CD) is an altered state of skin reactivity induced by exposure to an external agent. “Eczema” and “dermatitis” are often used synonymously to denote a polymorphic pattern of inflammation of the skin characterized, at least in its acute phase, by erythema, vesiculation and pruritus. Substances that induce CD after single or multiple exposures may be irritant or allergic in nature. The clinical presentation may vary depending on the identity of the triggering agent and the reactivity of the subject, but in all cases the lesions are primarily confined to the site of contact. According to the mechanism of elicitation, the following types of contact reactions may be distinguished: (1) allergic contact dermatitis (ACD); (2) irritant contact dermatitis (ICD); (3) phototoxic and photoallergic contact dermatitis, and (4) immediate type contact reactions. The present review will focus on allergic contact dermatitis. ACD is the clinical presentation of contact sensitivity in humans. The pathophysiology of the contact sensitivity reaction has been reviewed in a preceding issue of this journal [1].