By Gary M. White, MD

A patient allergic to an airborne allergen may develop a dermatitis on the exposed skin. Potential allergens include pollens, dust, ragweed, sawdust, animal hairs, household sprays, volatile chemicals, compositae plants, epoxy resin, chrysanthemums, and glutaraldehyde. In India, airborne contact dermatitis (ABCD) to Parthenium hysterophorus has become epidemic. The weed is ubiquitous and eradication is difficult. Sensitivity is lifelong and spontaneous cure is almost unknown.  


The rash may appear to be in a photodistribution. However, involvement of the undersurface of the chin and neck, the upper eyelids, and other exposed areas that do not get sun are clues. A high level of suspicion is needed.


Topical steroids for mild to moderate disease and oral steroids for a severe episode are recommended.   Narrowband UVB is suggested for recalcitrant ABCD to Parthenium hysterophorus.


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