Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is red, sore, itchy skin occurring in 15-20 percent of the population after coming into contact with certain materials. While rarely a medical emergency, contact dermatitis can significantly impact a person’s physical comfort and financial well-being, with days of lost school or work during flareups.

Dallas Dermatology Partners specializes in Contact Dermatitis treatment, diagnosis, and care in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Seeking the assistance of board-certified physicians will provide you with peace of mind, restored confidence, and immediate relief from your symptoms.

Symptoms of Contact Dermatitis

Patients with contact dermatitis may experience the following symptoms:

  • Upon First Contact: Red, severely itchy, swollen patches with visible borders, burning pain possible
  • With Chronic Exposure: Thick scales and dry patches with a change of skin color and possible loss of hair
  • Related To Infection: Blistering, cracking, oozing, fever, chills, aches, pain, nausea

Common Questions

1. Where Does a Contact Dermatitis Rash Appear?

The location of a Contact Dermatitis rash is most commonly the part of the body that came into contact with the trigger, but it can arise virtually anywhere on the body or spread.

2. How Soon Does Contact Dermatitis Develop After Coming into Contact with an Irritant?

Rashes typically appear within minutes or hours of exposure. Sometimes a person may be exposed to a substance for years or even decades before an allergy arises.

3. How Long Does Contact Dermatitis Last?

After experiencing a Contact Dermatitis allergy response generally lasting two to four weeks, recurrence is a lifelong possibility, so diagnosing and managing the condition is essential.

What are the Types of Contact Dermatitis?

  • Irritant Contact Dermatitis – Approximately 80 percent of all Contact Dermatitis cases arise after skin tissue is damaged by one or more exposures to an irritant.
  • Allergic Contact Dermatitis – A Contact Dermatitis allergy may arise as an immunologic response to an allergen in a genetically predisposed or sensitized person.

What are the Most Common Dermatitis Triggers?

While individuals may develop contact dermatitis from a great variety of irritants, common culprits include:

  • Fabrics or materials, including leather, rubber, latex, solvents, chemicals, resins, or glues
  • Nickel exposure in water, jewelry, belt buckles, cooking materials, or the workplace
  • Plants like poison ivy, poison sumac, or poison oak, and pesticides or weed killers
  • Soaps, detergents, cleansers, fabric softeners (parabens, emulsifiers, enzymes, dyes, preservatives)
  • Perfumes, fragrances, hair dyes, shampoos, lotions, nail polishes, ointments applied topically, essential oils
  • Foods like garlic, citrus peels, mango, onion, herbs, or spices
  • Medicines like corticosteroid creams, diuretics, statins, antihistamines, or immune-modulating drugs
  • Urine or stool in soiled diapers

Who Gets Contact Dermatitis?

Anyone can develop Contact Dermatitis. Risk factors include the following:

  • Women who have their hair colored or nails manicured frequently.
  • Young children who play with a variety of materials and play outdoors.
  • Patients over 70 using topical antibiotics.
  • Those with skin barrier function impairment, such as people with atopic dermatitis.
  • Construction/metal workers, beauticians, mechanics, nurses, cleaners, painters, cooks, and florists.

When to See A Contact Dermatitis Dermatologist

See a Contact Dermatitis dermatologist right away if you experience:

  • An uncomfortable rash that disturbs your sleep or daily activities.
  • Lack of confidence in how your skin appears because it is red and scaly.
  • Painful, itchy spreading of the initial symptoms to other parts of the body.
  • Persistent bumps that do not show signs of healing within three weeks.

Complications of Contact Dermatitis

Although uncommon, the more serious complications can include:

  • Bacterial or fungal infections
  • Cellulitis infections
  • Nonhealing sores and lesions
  • Permanent change in skin texture or coloration
  • Scarring

Diagnosing Contact Dermatitis

Upon your visit, we will ask you a few questions about your history and examine your skin. The location of the rash can be particularly telling with allergic responses to jewelry, plants, or cosmetics. Bringing in personal products can help clue the doctor as to what might be causing a reaction. Sometimes a minor skin biopsy might be required to confirm the diagnosis.

What Is Patch Testing?

A patch test is routinely conducted to investigate the nature of the irritation. Through a safe and effective method, doctors apply a small amount of diluted allergens to the patient’s back with adhesive tape, which is left in place for two days. Red swollen patches form to indicate an allergic reaction. Based on the results, physicians can determine what the offending trigger is and which products to avoid.

Contact Dermatitis Treatment

Seeing a professional will provide you with proven Contact Dermatitis treatment and prevention strategies which can include the following:

  • Doctors can also prescribe topical steroids, antihistamines, or topical immunomodulators to minimize the allergic response. For severe cases, short courses of topical antibiotics, systemic steroids, and phototherapy may provide relief.
  • OTC antipruritic creams can be used to take away the itch. Burrow’s solution (aluminum triacetate), calamine lotion, or warm oatmeal baths treat itchy, oozing lesions. Avoiding excessive handwashing, wearing gloves, and the use of non-irritating moisturizers will be helpful strategies in countering dermatitis of the hand.
  • Cold compresses can help with itching. Applications of witch hazel or coconut oil may diminish rashes, but it is always best to speak with a health care provider before trying any home remedies.

Contact us if you are suffering from Contact Dermatitis

Find immediate relief in the hands of our board-certified physicians who have a combined 65 years of practice, as well as “top doctor” awards from D Magazine. Contact us to make a Dallas dermatology appointment.

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