It is a condition where your skin becomes irritated and inflamed after touching a substance.
- There are 2 types of contact dermatitis:
- People who have atopic dermatitis are at a higher risk of getting both types of contact dermatitis.
This is the most common type. It is not caused by an allergy reaction. Irritating substances cause your skin's reaction.
These can be:
- Hair dyes
- Pesticides or weed killers
- Soaps or detergents
- Rubber gloves
Allergic contact dermatitis
This is when you have an allergic reaction to a substance your skin touches.
These can be:
- Topical antibiotics
- Fabrics and clothing. You can react to both materials and dyes.
- Fragrances in perfumes, cosmetics, soaps, and moisturizers.
- Nail polish and hair dyes
- Nickel or other metals
- Poison ivy
- Rubber or latex
- Preservatives used in medicines.
You may tolerate a substance for many years before you develop an allergy.
- You often get it on your hands, face, head, and neck. Your skin involved is patterned to the way the allergen comes in to contact with your body.
- Contact on your hands will often bring the allergen in contact with other parts of your body, such as your face.
- Itching is a common symptom and can be severe. The reaction often happens 24 to 48 hours after the exposure. The rash may last for weeks after the exposure.
Symptoms can be:
- Raw, dry, scaly, red, bumpy skin
- Blisters with oozing and crusting
- Cuts (fissures) may form
- Thicker or leather-like spots. This can happen after long-term irritation and scratching.
Exams and tests
Allergy testing called patch testing may be used to find the cause. Patch testing needs at least 3 clinic visits over 4 days.
- On the first visit, patches of possible allergens are put on your skin.
- These patches are taken off 48 hours later. Any reactions you have are measured and tracked.
A third visit will look for any delayed reaction. This will be about 3 days after your first visit.
- Do not have any more exposure to the substance if you are found to have an allergy.
- Emollients or moisturizers help give you a barrier. They keep your skin moist, and your skin repair itself.
- Barrier clothing such as gloves may also be helpful.
- Topical corticosteroid or immunosuppressant drugs can also be used.
To learn more
Last reviewed September 2020