Contact Dermatitis During a Pandemic

Poison Hemlock

Most of the contact dermatitis related to personal protective equipment during the pandemic is irritant in etiology. Irritant related mask dermatitis can occur because of pressure, friction, and moisture retention by the mask. Allergic contact dermatitis attributed to masks can be due to formaldehyde, textile dyes, rubber accelerators, isocynates and or metals. Hand dermatitis has also been reported and can be due to components of gloves, hand cleansers, or hand sanitizing gels.

 

Foraging for wild foods has received increased media coverage recently. One can join foraging walks across the country.   Plant induced contact dermatitis can occur when hiking or gathering plants. It is advisable to wear gloves when handling any plants.   The Apiaceae family includes carrots, wild parsnips, queen anne’s lace, poison hemlock and giant hogweed.  This family of plants has furocoumarins which can cause a UV induced dermatitis called phytophotodermatitis. The rash can develop redness, blisters, and pigmentation. Milkweed which is an important food source of monarch butterflies, contains cardiac glycosides. The milkweed sap is a known skin and eye irritant.  Stinging Nettle is high is vitamin C content and can deliver quite a sting sensation as the stems and leaves are covered in tiny stingers. The burning sensation can last up to 24hr after exposure.

 

Author
Alison Ehrlich, MD, MHS

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