Contact Dermatitis Treatment

Contact dermatitis (also called contact eczema) refers to a group of skin disorders in which a skin reaction is caused by direct contact with the causative agent. The term dermatitis means that the outer layers of the skin are affected; can be acute or chronic. We have written for you what you wonder about the treatment of contact dermatitis, which is an itchy condition.

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    What are the drugs used in the treatment?

    Various medications can be used to treat contact dermatitis. Your allergist will determine the drug that is suitable for you after a detailed diagnosis.

    Topical Steroids

    Topical steroids are anti-inflammatory drugs. They help control the redness faster and are usually applied 1-2 times a day. Topical steroids are available in different formulations and strengths. There are milder topical steroids such as hydrocortisone, as well as stronger forms that your doctor will prescribe for stubborn cases. However, since these drugs can thin the skin, they should be used carefully and under the supervision of a doctor.


    Antihistamines can be given to relieve itching from dermatitis, but topical steroids are likely to be more effective at relieving the rash.

    Topical Immunomodulators

    Topical calcineurin inhibitors are anti-inflammatory agents used in the treatment of contact dermatitis, which may provide another option.

    Topical Antibiotics

    These creams or ointments are sometimes used if there are open cracks and evidence of a secondary bacterial infection.

    Systemic Steroids

    These medications can be given by mouth or by injection and may be necessary if the rash is severe, associated with swelling, or if the rash covers most of your body. They provide rapid recovery and are generally considered safe when prescribed for short periods of time. However, systemic steroids can have significant side effects that require close monitoring by your doctor and are not recommended for the long-term treatment of contact dermatitis. Some of these side effects may include weight gain, bone thinning, cataracts, glaucoma, easy bruising, and sleep disturbances. It’s also important to take these medications exactly as directed to prevent a flare-up of your dermatitis with rapid discontinuation, among other side effects.

    What Can I Do If I Have Contact Dermatitis?

    First of all, you need to have a detailed examination by an allergist. Your allergist will create a treatment plan based on the severity of your symptoms. In order for you to get an accurate treatment plan, your trigger needs to be identified. Knowing your trigger and avoiding it is the key to effective treatment. If it is not possible to avoid the trigger, the symptoms may be permanent, the rash may become chronic, and a significant decrease in quality of life may occur.

    -For acute symptoms, cold compresses can help with itching.

    – In hand dermatitis, it is recommended to avoid excessive hand washing and use non-irritating moisturizers. Try to use mild soaps, moisturizers, and detergents that don’t contain dyes or perfumes. If contact with these chemicals is unavoidable, wear gloves to protect your hands and other body parts from exposure, but be aware that you may also be allergic to the chemicals in the gloves.

    -The use of barrier socks may be beneficial in foot dermatitis.

    -Wash skin immediately after contact with an allergen to limit the spread and severity of the reaction, such as after known contact with a plant allergen (poison ivy).

    -Cover metal fasteners on clothing to prevent contact with nickel.

    – Before using any new skin product, test it on a small area of your skin. Wait for a while and start using if you don’t experience symptoms.

    -To keep the skin barrier strong; use lotions and creams that repair and protect the skin barrier.

    If triggers are unavoidable, take steps to protect exposed skin. Try to wear protective clothing to minimize contact, such as gloves when washing dishes or using cleaning products.

    – Wash your skin as soon as you come in contact with a trigger. Also wash any clothing that may have come into contact with it.

    – Prevent your skin from over-drying. Daily moisturizers (softening creams) can help. Apply them after your skin is wet, for example after washing, showering or swimming.

    -Avoid extreme changes in heat or cold and humidity.

    What Causes Contact Dermatitis?

    Physical contact with an allergen or irritant causes contact dermatitis. If your body doesn’t like something touching your skin, your immune system will respond. When you see your skin swollen or inflamed, it’s a sign that your white blood cells are responding to an allergen or irritant that can cause an itchy rash. The rash may appear within minutes if it is caused by an irritant, or it may appear hours or days after exposure to an allergen.

    The most common causes of allergic contact dermatitis are:

    • Plants or parts of a plant; like poison ivy,
    • Perfumed skin care products,
    • metals such as nickel,
    • Certain medications, including antibiotics
    • preservatives or chemicals.

    The most common causes of irritant contact dermatitis are:

    • acids,
    • Cleaning products,
    • Body fluids, including urine and saliva
    • hair dyes,
    • nail polish remover or other solvents,
    • Paints and varnishes,
    • soaps or detergents,
    • Resins, plastics and epoxies.

    What Are the Symptoms of Contact Dermatitis?

    Symptoms vary depending on the cause and whether the dermatitis is caused by an allergic reaction or an irritant. The same person may have different symptoms over time. Allergic reactions can occur suddenly, developing after months or years of exposure. Contact dermatitis often occurs on the hands. Hair products, cosmetics and perfumes can cause skin reactions on the face, head and neck. Jewelry can also cause skin problems in the area underneath. Itching is a common symptom. In the case of allergic dermatitis, itching can be severe. You may have a rash that is red, streaky, or patchy where the substance has come into contact with the skin.

    Dermatitis caused by an irritant can cause burning or pain as well as itching. Irritant dermatitis usually presents as dry, red, and rough skin. Cracks may occur on the hands. The skin can become inflamed with prolonged exposure.