Music MenaceIN MEN'S HEALTH
If you're a musician, you may have more to worry about than hitting the right notes. Your constant companion-the instrument you play-could cause you to develop an irksome skin condition called contact dermatitis.
Anthony F. Fransway, MD, FAAD, a dermatologist from Fort Myers, Florida, presented information at the 70th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology in March that should command the attention of instrumentalists everywhere. According to Dr. Fransway, all musicians-amateur and professional-could be at risk for contact dermatitis because of some of the materials used to make brass, string, and woodwind instruments. Contact dermatitis is characterized by itchy, red, swollen skin. The condition develops after the skin touches a chemical irritant or an allergen. What musicians may not realize is the instruments they use to follow their dreams could cause epidermal nightmares.
Dr. Fransway cites metals-especially nickel, but also cobalt, chromium, gold, and others-found in certain musical instruments as culprits for contact dermatitis in musicians. Instruments made of exotic woods can trigger the skin condition in certain people, while other individuals may be affected by rosin and a type of wood-staining solution used with string instruments.
If you develop contact dermatitis, Dr. Fransway recommends seeing a dermatologist to determine if the condition was triggered by an irritant or allergen. Once armed with this knowledge, you can modify your behavior or playing style to avoid your skin's scourge.
|The Three-Week Itch
The symptoms of contact dermatitis depend on its cause: allergen or irritant. The most common symptom for both types of contact dermatitis is itchiness on the areas exposed to the trigger material. Allergic contact dermatitis symptoms also include skin that turns rough and tender and the appearance of red bumps that may give way to blisters. Skin with irritant contact dermatitis generally is crimson and scaly.
If you develop contact dermatitis, wash the affected area often to purge remains of the trigger substance and keep it moisturized to guard against inflammation. Skin creams containing corticosteroids will combat inflammation until contact dermatitis subsides, usually in two to three weeks. If you know what caused the condition, avoid the material to prevent recurrence.
Sources: aad.org, aafa.org, health.usnews.com, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov© 2013. True North Custom Media. All Rights Reserved.