A widespread but little known problem.
Allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) is an allergic skin reaction caused by contact with chemicals, called allergens, which can stimulate skin inflammation with consequent redness, rash, eczema, blisters and persistent itching. ACD generally affects people over 30, both men and women equally, with a strong incidence in the workplace: from construction to chemicals, from manufacturing to textiles, from healthcare professionals to cleaners. This is why it is often referred to as “occupational dermatitis”.
Nickel and chromium,
the most common allergens.
The most common allergens causing contact dermatitis are metals and in particular nickel, cobalt and chromium, which affect a significant percentage of the world population and are found in jewellery, clothes, belts, zippers and other accessories and garments. Other allergens that can cause ACD are formaldehyde (which is the cause of “trouser dermatitis”), the dimethyl fumerate (DMFU) from synthetic fabrics and dyes, and other substances found in cosmetics, perfumes, drugs, paints, shampoos, enamels and plastics.
through a patch test.
Allergic contact dermatitis can be detected through a diagnostic tool called a patch test, which exposes a patient’s sensitized part to a number of materials, each containing a specific allergen. If a reaction occurs, the substance causing the disorder can be easily identified. Unfortunately, however, still very few people with ACD consult a specialist – an allergist, a dermatologist or a podiatrist – and carry out a patch test. Several researches show that a large portion of the allergic population has never undergone an allergy test. This means that many people are not aware of suffering from ACD.
a fertile ground for ACD.
ACD finds a particularly favourable condition inside a shoe, as its moist and sometimes occlusive environment makes the foot particularly vulnerable to dermatitis. Inflammations occur in the form of excoriations mainly found in the top area of the toes. This sensitization that can easily become complicated with bacterial infections, especially in diabetic subjects. In shoe ACD, the most common substances causing the disorder are tanning agents, adhesives, finishing products (in particular dyes) and rubber, but 80% of sensitizations are caused by chromium salts, found in leather tanning and dyes, including those used for fabrics.