Toilet Seat Dermatitis
Posted by Shifrah on Friday, January 29, 2010
An article from the recently highlighted an allergy that we don't hear about very often--toilet seat dermatitis. The condition refers to contact dermatitis that is caused by harsh cleaning chemicals and wooden toilet seats. United States' incidents of toilet seat-related skin irritations in children are on the rise, and these two factors appear to be the reasons.

Dr. Bernard Cohen, director of pediatric dermatology at Johns Hopkins Children's Center explains that children can develop toilet seat dermatitis after repeated exposure to residue from harsh cleaning chemicals, or after using a wooden toilet seat which is often coated with paints or varnishes that can irritate the skin.

A study conducted by Dr. Cohen and colleagues found that missed and delayed diagnoses occurred in every case of toilet seat dermatitis before a doctor came upon the correct diagnosis. The researchers suggest that any time a pediatrician sees a child with skin irritation around the buttocks or upper thighs, they should inquire about toilet seats and cleansers used at home and school.

Dr. Cohen explained in a Johns Hopkins news release: “Toilet seat dermatitis is one of those legendary conditions described in medical textbooks and seen in underdeveloped countries, but one that younger pediatricians have not come across in their daily practice. If our small analysis is any indication of what’s happening, we need to make sure the condition is on every pediatrician’s radar.”

Although most cases of toilet seat dermatitis are mild and easily treated with topical steroids, inflammation can spread and become increasingly painful if not addressed. Infections can also occur when skin is irritated or broken and vulnerable to bacteria.

The researchers offer the following tips to prevent toilet seat dermatitis:

  • Use paper toilet seat covers in public bathrooms.
  • Replace wooden toilet seats with plastic ones.
  • Clean toilet seats and bowls daily, but don’t use harsh cleansers which can irritate the skin. Use rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, or try one of these allergy-friendly cleaners.

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