Allergic Contact Dermatitis
Allergic Contact Dermatitis Overview
Allergic contact dermatitis, also known simply as contact dermatitis, can cause an itchy red rash on the affected area. It is a common skin condition caused by an allergic reaction to any number of things, including certain:
Soaps or detergents
Metals in jewelry
Fragrances or cosmetics
Although anyone can develop contact dermatitis, those most at risk include people in specific jobs or who have certain hobbies, such as:
- Healthcare workers and dental workers
- Construction workers
- Hairdressers and cosmetologists
- Auto mechanics
- Scuba divers or swimmers due to the rubber in face masks, goggles and flippers
- Those who clean for a living, such as maids and janitors
- Gardeners and agricultural workers
- Cooks and others who work with food
The risk is higher for these individuals because they have relatively constant exposure to allergens that can trigger a reaction.
Allergic Contact Dermatitis Symptoms
The main sign of atopic dermatitis is itchy skin which may cause you to scratch. Scratching leads to additional symptoms, including:
If your skin becomes infected, you may develop a fever or pus oozing from your sores.
You must gain control over your contact dermatitis to avoid both discomfort and infections.
Allergic Contact Dermatitis Diagnosis
The first step in identifying your condition is scheduling an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor will examine your skin and ask you questions about your symptoms, allergies, medical history and family’s medical history.
A patch test using small amounts of potential allergens may help identify the culprit. In this test, the possible offenders are applied to a patch and applied to your skin for several days. Your doctor will check for any skin reactions under the patches.
Allergic Contact Dermatitis Treatments
Once you have identified the culprit, you may avoid allergic contact dermatitis by avoiding the allergens that cause it. However, if this is not sufficient to alleviate your symptoms, your doctor may prescribe a steroid cream or ointment to soothe the rash to be applied once or twice a day for a specific period. For severe cases, your doctor may prescribe an oral corticosteroid.
You can also make lifestyle changes or use home remedies to avoid future dermatitis outbreaks or treat current episodes. For example:
- Avoid the allergen
- Wash your skin and clothing with mild, fragrance-free soap and warm water the moment you realize you have come in contact with the allergen
- Wear gloves or other protective clothing
- Apply cool, wet compresses to the irritated area for 15 to 30 minutes several times a day
- Apply moisturizers
- Do not scratch and wear gloves and apply bandages to protect the itchy areas