What is contact dermatitis?
Contact dermatitis is a skin rash. It develops when your skin touches something that irritates it or causes an allergic reaction.
What causes contact dermatitis?
The following items are common irritants or allergens that can cause contact dermatitis:
- Hairspray, gel, or dye
- Rough fabric, such as wool
- Makeup or tanning products
- Certain metals, such as chromium or nickel
- Cleaning products
- Rubber and latex
- Certain topical medicines, such as antibiotic or steroid cream
- Plants, such as poison ivy or poison oak
What are the signs and symptoms of contact dermatitis?
- You skin may be red, swollen, or painful.
- Your skin may be itchy, stinging, or burning.
- You may have dry, scaly, and crusty patches.
- Your skin may have bumps or blisters.
- Your skin may be moist and your blisters may leak fluid.
How is contact dermatitis diagnosed?
Your caregiver will examine your rash. He will ask you questions to find out what caused your rash. You may also need the following:
- Patch test: Caregivers put patches on your skin, usually on your upper back. Each patch contains a different allergen. You will wear the patches for about 2 days. The patches are then removed. Your caregiver will check the skin underneath each patch. If the skin is red, you may be allergic to the substance on that patch. Your caregiver may check your skin the day he removes the patches and then a few days later.
How is contact dermatitis treated?
Antihistamines decrease itching and swelling. This medicine may be given as a shot, a pill, or a lotion.
How can I manage my contact dermatitis?
- Avoid skin irritants: You may need to avoid certain makeup, hair products, soaps, and cleansers. You may need to stop using products that have perfumes or dyes. Use mild soap or soap-free cleansers.
- Use a cool compress: A cool compress or wet towel can help soothe your skin.
- Take short baths or showers: Bathe or shower in lukewarm water. Add oatmeal, baking soda, or cornstarch to the bath water to help reduce skin irritation.
- Keep your skin moist: Rub unscented cream or lotion on your skin to prevent dryness and itching. Do this right after a bath or shower when your skin is still damp. Apply lotion as many times as needed each day to keep your skin moist and soft.
- Wear cotton clothes: Wear loose-fitting clothes made from 100% cotton. Avoid wool. Do not wear clothes that make you hot and sweaty.
When should I contact my caregiver?
Contact your caregiver if:
- You have a fever.
- Your skin is red, swollen, and tender.
- Your blisters are oozing pus.
- Your rash is spreading or does not get better, even after treatment .
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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