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Contact Dermatitis

It is a type of atopic dermatitis that develops on direct contact of the skin with the substance. It could be caused either by an irritant or due to an allergic reaction.

Contact dermatitis caused by an irritant usually looks like a burn with dry, red and rough skin. The rash may be associated with burning sensation and pains.

Common irritants include soaps, detergents, fabric softeners, solvents, cement, hair dyes, shampoo, rubber gloves and chemicals such as pesticides and weed killers.

Allergic dermatitis causes a red and streaky rash at the site of contact of the allergen with the skin. The rash may feel warm and tender which gradually become scaly, thickened and can result in crust formation or oozing of fluid from the lesion.

Common allergens may include nickel or other metals, cosmetics, soap, clothing, topical antibiotics such as neomycin, poison ivy and rubber gloves or shoes.


  • The diagnosis of contact dermatitis is based on the appearance of the rash and a history of previous contact with an irritant or an allergen.
  • To determine the substance causing the rash a patch testing may be performed.
  • Sometimes skin lesion biopsy or culture of the skin lesion may be used to rule out the possibility of other causes.


  • The simple and best treatment for contact dermatitis is washing the affected area with lots of water to remove all the traces of the substance.
  • Subsequent exposure to the irritant or allergen should be avoided.
  • Patients may be prescribed moisturizers along with the corticosteroid cream. In severe cases corticosteroid pills or injections may be needed.
  • To reduce symptoms wet dressings with anti-itch lotion may be used.
  • In case infection occurs antibiotics may be prescribed.

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