Contact dermatitis occurs when the skin touches a substance that irritates the skin or causes an allergic reaction. Common causes of contact dermatitis from irritants are soaps, detergents, solvents, waxes, polishes, and hand cleaners. Common causes from allergic reactions are hair dyes, jewelry, fingernail polish, and deodorants. Some of the other substances that might cause contact dermatitis are rubber, poison ivy, and nickel. (Nickel is often in inexpensive jewelry, belt buckles, and the backs of watches.)
The symptoms of contact dermatitis include:
Your healthcare provider will ask about your recent medical history and any travel you have done, your work duties, your hobbies, etc., to try to identify possible irritants that may have touched your skin recently. He or she will look at the entire rash, noting where it is and how it looks in each area (for example, whether it is on 1 or both hands).
Your healthcare provider may prescribe:
You will need to try to avoid the substance that irritated your skin.
With treatment, the rash should get better in a few days.
If the rash gets infected, you may need antibiotics and it will take a few days longer before your skin is completely healed. Symptoms of infection include:
If you develop fever or see red streaks spreading from the site of the rash, contact your healthcare provider right away. These symptoms can mean rapidly worsening infection and need treatment.
Follow your healthcare provider's instructions. In addition, you can:
If you know the substance that caused the dermatitis, make sure that the substance is not one of the ingredients in the cosmetic, cleaning, or other products that you use. If you are accidentally exposed to the substance, wash the exposed area right away. Wash thoroughly but gently to try to remove as much of the substance as possible without further irritating the skin.
You may need to stop using makeup one product at a time to see if any one product seems to make your rash worse.
Whether or not you know what substances give you contact dermatitis, it may be helpful to:
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This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
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