What Is Contact Dermatitis? Symptoms, Causes, And Treatments to Know

Pacific Dermatology Specialists rash treatment What Is Contact Dermatitis? Symptoms, Causes, And Treatments to Know

Contact dermatitis is an itchy, red rash that appears when you use a product or substance that you’re allergic or sensitive to. These can include cosmetics, lotions, fragrances, cleaning chemicals, jewelry, and plants. While the irritation isn’t always harmful, it can be quite uncomfortable. Fortunately, a medical dermatologist can treat your contact dermatitis and give you tips to prevent it.

What Are The Symptoms of Contact Dermatitis?

The main symptom of contact dermatitis is a red rash. This rash generally appears soon after contact with the object or substance. However, the severity of the rash will depend on the allergy. Some other common contact dermatitis symptoms include:

  • Itching
  • Swelling
  • Pain, burning, or tenderness
  • Dry, scaly, or cracked skin
  • Blisters (which may ooze and crust over time)
  • Bumpy skin

Symptoms of contact dermatitis can appear anywhere on the body and may last several weeks. It’s important to see your dermatologist if the rash is severely itchy or painful, the rash doesn’t go away within a few weeks, or the rash spreads. Oozing blisters accompanied by a fever may be a sign of an infection, so call your doctor right away if you develop these symptoms.

What Causes Contact Dermatitis?

There are many potential contact dermatitis causes. Some people may experience this rash when using makeup, lotion, soap, or other cosmetics that they’re allergic to. Materials like latex and certain types of metal jewelry can also cause this reaction. Plants like poison ivy can cause allergic contact dermatitis as well.

Keep in mind that you can also experience contact dermatitis when a substance irritates skin. The rash doesn’t always indicate an allergy. Examples of irritant contact dermatitis include diaper rash, burns from acids, rashes from food contact, skin irritation from lip licking, and dry skin from frequent hand washing. You might also experience irritant contact dermatitis when using a laundry detergent that you’re sensitive to.

There is also a rare type of dermatitis called photocontact dermatitis, which occurs when a substance on the skin reacts to sunlight and causes a rash. This is possible with certain skincare products.

What Treatments Are Available?

When you see your dermatologist about potential contact dermatitis, they will examine the rash and provide a diagnosis. They will then treat the contact dermatitis with a few possible methods. Dermatologists often treat mild and moderate cases with topical creams. They may also recommend that you take antihistamines and use a gentle moisturizer. Your dermatologist may prescribe a medication, like prednisone, to control swelling if you have a more severe case. Antibiotics may be necessary if the dermatitis is infected.

Once they treat the initial reaction, your dermatologist will work with you to determine the cause of the dermatitis. Patch testing is a common method for testing for allergies and irritations. Once you know the cause of your dermatitis, you can avoid the substance in the future. There is no cure for contact dermatitis, so prevention is key.

If you are experiencing the symptoms of contact dermatitis, contact the team at Pacific Dermatology Specialists. With offices in Torrance, CA and the surrounding area, these medical dermatology providers are available to diagnose and treat contact dermatitis. They also specialize in a variety of other medical, cosmetic, and surgical treatments.

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