This occurs less frequently than irritant contact dermatitis. It is often difficult to differentiate between an allergic from an irritant contact dermatitis by the appearance of the rash alone (Fig 2).
Substances known to cause skin allergy include rubber gloves, food stuff (onions, garlic, fruits), spices, flavouring agents, certain hand creams, fragrances, nickel, chromate (in bleaches), flowers, polishes and disinfectants. Skin allergies can be confirmed by a skin patch test. Once the patient is found to be allergic to a particular substance, he/she should make special efforts to avoid direct skin contact with the substance, in order to avoid worsening or relapse of the dermatitis.