CONTACT DERMATITIS: How To Treat & Prevent



Have you ever touched any chemical or foreign substance such as new skincare product or detergent which makes your skin red and irritated? If this is the case then you may have experienced the condition of Contact Dermatitis. This skin condition is commonly known as skin rash but medical practitioners called it as Contact Dermatitis. It occurs when you come in contact with a chemical called as allergen or irritant, that causes a reaction to your skin and it gets red, tender and inflamed. Only apparent regions of skin are affected in it. The inflamed affected tissues are present in epidermis (outermost layer of skin) and outer dermis (layer under the epidermis) of the skin.

Although most of the reactions of Contact Dermatitis are not severe, you may need to treat itching, irritation, redness and other symptoms of the condition.

Here’s what you need to know about types, symptoms, causes, treatment of Contact Dermatitis and ways of preventing the condition:

What are types of Contact Dermatitis?

There are two main types of Contact Dermatitis:

  1. Allergic Contact Dermatitis (ACD): Your immune system is involved in this type. When you touch something, your immune system mistakenly thinks that your body is under attack, so it starts making antibodies. This chain of events causes inflammatory chemicals release that make the skin feel irritated and itchy, leading to allergic Contact Dermatitis.
  2. Irritant Contact Dermatitis (ICD): In this type, your immune system is not involved. Instead when you touch something especially a toxic material, it takes away the surface oils that are responsible for protecting the skin. Degree of reaction depends on time period for which irritant remains on your skin.

What are symptoms of Contact Dermatitis?

The symptoms of Contact Dermatitis depend on the specific type and the cause.

Symptoms of allergic Contact Dermatitis are extreme itching, dry, scaly and flaky skin, skin redness, skin that burns and appears as darkened or leathery, skin becomes sensitive to sun, fluid filled blisters, hives (swollen pale red bumps or plaques) and swelling especially in face, eyes and groin areas (area between abdomen and thigh on either side of the body).

Symptoms of irritant Contact Dermatitis are swelling, blistering, cracked skin due to extreme dryness, ulcers, open sores forming crusts and skin that feels tight.

What are common causes of allergic Contact Dermatitis?

The common causes include contact with jewellery that is made from nickel or gold, latex gloves, poison ivy or poison oak (oily coating from plants), perfumes and chemicals in skincare products or cosmetics.

What are common causes of irritant Contact Dermatitis?

The common toxic substances that causes the condition include bleach, alkaline detergents, cleaning products, battery acid, kerosene, latex rubber, pepper spray, drain cleaners, perfumes, shampoos, cosmetics, lotions and low humidity from air conditioning and from some plants. The condition can also occur when you have too much contact with less irritating materials such as water and soaps, for example, people whose hands are frequently exposed to water such as bartenders, hairdressers and healthcare workers, often develop this type of condition.

How is Contact Dermatitis treated?

The symptoms of most of the Contact Dermatitis cases go away on their own when your skin is no longer remain in contact with the substance. There are some tips that you can try at your home for treating the condition:

  • Make sure to avoid scratching the affected skin, because scratching can make the irritation worse and also cause skin infection.
  • To remove any irritants, you must clear your skin with lukewarm water and mild soap.
  • If you think any specific product is causing the problem then immediately stop using it.
  • Apply bland petroleum jelly that soothes the affected area.
  • You can try to use anti-itch treatments such as hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion.

If rash is close to your eyes or mouth or covers large area of your body or doesn’t improve after 2-3 days of home treatment or if the symptoms are getting severe then you should contact a professional dermatologist, who prescribes a medical treatment according to the specific conditions of every patient. The treatment options include lotions, creams and oral medications, steroids, commonly Corticosteroid medication is prescribed for inflamed area which is applied as cream or ointment and prescribed in form of pill or injection if affected area covers large surface. Strong medicine like Halobetasol is also recommended by doctors for more severe conditions. Antihistamines are also given by dermatologists.

What are preventive measures of Contact Dermatitis?

The first step is to avoid any initial exposure to irritants which help to prevent the Contact Dermatitis. Buy those products which labelled as “hypoallergenic” or “unscented”. If you have latex allergy then avoid wearing latex gloves and go for vinyl gloves instead. Make sure to wear full sleeved shirts and pants when you hike in wilderness. If you notice any irritation after using new product then immediately stop using it.

If you know that you have a sensitive skin then perform a spot test before using any new products. For that, you can apply the new product to a place on your forearm and cover this area while avoiding exposure to water or soap. Check whether you get any reaction within 48 to 96 hours after the application. If there is any irritation or redness then don’t use that product.

Consult Marie Hayag, MD to treat your Contact Dermatitis:

If you’re experiencing Contact Dermatitis or the symptoms are getting worse even after the home treatment then you can contact highly recommended board certified dermatologist Marie Hayag, MD who provides best Contact Dermatitis treatment in NYC. She has extensive years of experience and skills to treat patients having Contact Dermatitis by devising a proper and workable treatment plan according to the conditions and needs of the patients. The treatment is safe, protective and advanced and you get clean, spotless skin that you truly deserve. You can visit our website and fill the contact form or call us for any immediate help.