Tips for treating contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is an inflammatory skin disease caused by contact with substances of very different nature (detergents and alkaline materials such as soaps, fabric softeners, solvents and other chemicals), which causes the skin to become red.

This condition can be irritating or allergic. There are mechanisms such as phototoxicity and photoallergy that, apart from the contact of the substance with the skin, there is a need for exposure to light.

treating contact dermatitis

Substances that can cause dermatitis

According to the Medical Center of the University of Maryland, cements, hair dyes, the prolonged exposure to wet diapers, pesticides or some shampoos can also trigger irritant dermatitis. Other common allergens are:

  • Adhesives, such as those used for eyelashes or hairpieces.
  • Antibiotics like neomycin rubbed on the surface of the skin.
  • Peruvian balm (used in many personal and cosmetic products, as well as in many foods and beverages).
  • Fabrics and clothing.
  • Fragrances in perfumes, cosmetics, soaps and moisturizing creams.
  • Nail polish, hair dyes and solutions for permanent curls.
  • Nickel and other metals (found in jewelry, watch bands, metal zippers, brass hooks, buttons, knives, lipstick cases and compact powders).
  • Ivy, oak, sumac and other poisonous plants.
  • Rubber or latex gloves or shoes.

Fonseca warns that this type of allergic dermatitis usually appears or develops even if they have never suffered. “A prolonged period of exposure (contact with the substance) is usually necessary for a contact allergy to develop. Sometimes, this appears after many years of contact with the substance, “he clarified.


The symptoms that may be warning us that a substance is irritating to our skin are the appearance of eczematous lesions, which may be accompanied by blisters or necrosis and itching. In addition, the expert emphasizes that, although most often the lesions appear where the substance contacts the skin, there may be generalized reactions.

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From the University of Maryland, they warn that the same person who suffers from this dermatitis may have different symptoms over time, although itching of the skin on the exposed areas is a common symptom and the rash may sprout between 24 and 48 hours after contact with the substance.

Feeling hot or tender, oozing, draining or crusting may also be some symptoms of contact dermatitis.

treating contact dermatitis


First of all, to prevent it, the main thing is to suspend contact with the substance. “The process is resolved in days or weeks, but it reappears if the contact occurs again. In order for the already established lesions to be resolved, it may be precise medication such as topical corticosteroids or systemically or oral antihistamines, “says Fonseca.

The University of Maryland advises to wash the skin with plenty of water to remove the remains of substances that have remained on the skin. The application of emollients or moisturizers also helps keep the skin moist and repair itself.

The expert concludes that the severity will depend on the intensity and extent of the lesions. If they do not disappear, the substance causing the condition may not have been identified. For a good diagnosis, the UMM recommends the patient to undergo skin patch allergy tests (called patch tests) to determine which allergen is causing the reaction.


If your job requires exposure to a substance that could be causing this condition it is advisable to follow these tips:

  • Wear protective gloves that do not contain latex.
  • Wear long sleeved shirts.
  • Ventilate the rooms well.
  • Use protective creams or cleansing lotions for the skin.
  • Maintain good personal hygiene.
  • Store chemical products correctly.
  • Use disposable paper towels.

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