App helps people with Dermatitis

March 8, 2012 2:55:22 PM PST
Skin infection and inflammation are so common that its estimated that 9 million people go to the doctor each year because of dermatitis. One of the causes is allergic reaction or contact dermatitis. A new source of help for people allergic to products is as close as your cell phone.

Contact dermatitis can produce an itchy, ugly rash on your skin and it can happen when your skin comes in contact with a chemical in a product such as in a skin lotion or a detergent. But trying to figure out what products are safe can be daunting for patients. Now, a phone app from a doctor at the Mayo Clinic can make it easier.

"Anything that touches your skin, makes me break out," Dottie Harshbarger said.

She says dealing with dermatitis is no fun incredible itching.

A trip to the doctor's office and some allergy testing helped Dottie find out what the culprits were: Benzalkonium chloride and fragrance. Finding products that were safe, that didn't have those ingredients in any shape or form, was overwhelming.

"It was confusing because I had chemical names that I had to figure out on the back of each product. It took forever to look at every row, every line," Harshbarger said. "Hydroxyplropyl? It took forever to look at every row, every column every - all these things read every bottle."

All that just to buy skin cream, a bar of soap or a bottle of shampoo.

"CARD does the thinking for you," Dr. James Yiannias said,

CARD, says Yiannias, is short for contact allergen replacement database. It's an app you can use on your computer or smart phone that's custom designed for each user.

"It's basically a shopping list of skin care products that you can use based upon what it is that your dermatologist has said that you're allergic to," Yiannias said.

Reporting products that are safe for you. You can also search for products by category or brand name. And if they contain ingredients that could cause a rash, the app sends you a warning.

"The whole purpose of card is to allow our patients who struggle with itchy, uncomfortable red rashes to be steered clear of the things that we know tend to cause this sort of problem," Yiannias said.

Other features will include a bar code reader to identify products, suggestions for products that are safe, and a journal where you can jot down notes. You can even upload pictures of skin reactions to show to your doctor on your next visit. The app helped Dottie find products that work for her.

My skin is so much better now. And safe products equal fewer outbreaks of dermatitis.

CARD has more than 4,500 products in its database. Dr. Yiannias says it's constantly being updated, and the app will even let you know if a manufacturer changes ingredients in products. That way you can make sure all ingredients are safe.

For more information, visit

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