Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a skin condition resulting from an allergic reaction. It comes in the form of a rash after direct contact with a substance.  Thankfully, this isn’t contagious or severe and may be effectively treated within weeks. The expert staff at Kratz Allergy & Asthma in Florida can help you identify contact dermatitis and begin an effective treatment plan. 

Causes of Contact Dermatitis

When your skin has an allergic reaction to a substance, inflammatory chemicals are sent to the skin, making it red, itchy, and uncomfortable. Substances of all kinds can trigger contact dermatitis, and you may not realize that you’re allergic to a substance until you have a reaction. 

Examples of substances that may cause this include:

  • Plants such as poison ivy or poison oak
  • Cosmetics and beauty products, namely those that include chemicals or fragrances
  • Jewelry, namely pieces made from gold or nickel
  • Soaps and laundry detergents
  • Latex gloves

Symptoms of Contact Dermatitis

Symptoms generally appear in the area that was directly exposed to the substance. The skin reaction may appear after a few minutes or hours of exposure and typically goes away after two to four weeks. 

Symptoms may include:

  • A skin rash that’s red and inflamed 
  • Itchiness and a burning sensation
  • Blisters which may ooze
  • Bumps or hives
  • Dry or cracked skin
  • Swelling
  • Heightened sensitivity to sun exposure

The intensity of contact dermatitis depends on how allergic you are to the substance. A minor reaction may not lead to oozing blisters or severe swelling, for example. 

Treatment Methods

Depending on the severity of a case of contact dermatitis, it may be effectively treated with at-home solutions or doctor-prescribed medications. When you first experience a skin reaction, you can try these at-home solutions to ease discomfort:

  • Refrain from scratching or touching the affected area, as doing so will make the reaction worse. 
  • Avoid the allergy-causing substance and thoroughly clean the skin with a gentle soap to remove all traces of the substance.
  • Soothe the skin by applying a non-prescription anti-itch cream, ideally with a minimum of 1% hydrocortisone. 
  • For extreme itching, take an over-the-counter, oral, anti-itch medication, such as a corticosteroid or antihistamine. 
  • Soak the affected area in a lukewarm bath.
  • Use a cold pack wrapped in a wet towel to temporarily relieve burning and discomfort. 

Doctor prescribed solutions may be needed for severe cases of contact dermatitis. Your doctor can prescribe a topical steroid cream or ointment to bring down the skin rash. You may also receive a prescription for an oral corticosteroid medication to manage itching, or antibiotics if the rash becomes a bacterial infection. 

Contact dermatitis is an entirely manageable skin reaction. Contact us at Kratz Allergy & Asthma to schedule an appointment and learn about our full range of allergy and immunology services.