Most people experience the irritating itch of contact dermatitis for at least once in their life. Although most people do not experience a major allergic reaction, this is uncomfortable until the effects have subsided. If a person’s skin comes into contact with an irritant, it can cause itching or a rash. This reaction is known as contact dermatitis.

Contact Dermatitis Symptoms

In almost all cases of dermatitis, a rash develops after exposure to an allergen or irritant. In most cases of dermatitis, the rash can be red, itchy, and sore. If exposure to the irritant or allergen continues, the skin may become dark and leathery.

In addition, some types of contact dermatitis have the following symptoms:

  • Bumps
  • Dry, cracked, and scaly skin
  • Rash
  • Redness
  • Burning sensation
  • Pain or itching
  • Swelling

To differentiate between types, attention needs to be paid to when a person’s symptoms begin.

When it occurs due to an irritant reaction, symptoms may occur immediately upon contact with the irritant. In severe cases, ulcers may develop, which can help identify the trigger substance.

In cases of photo contact dermatitis, the rash only occurs when the individual is exposed to DIRECT sunlight.

Contact Dermatitis Diagnosis

Depending on the condition of the skin symptoms, the doctor will ask you to:

  • Contact with poisonous plants
  • History of exposure to irritating chemicals at work or at home
  • Personal and family history of allergies

In some cases, your doctor may need to ask for the names of certain ingredients in your personal care products. Products with particularly demanded component names are as follows:

  • Antibiotic skin ointments.
  • Cosmetics
  • Hair dyes
  • Nail polish
  • Shampoos
  • Skin lotions

After reviewing the history of allergies and chemical exposure, the doctor can usually confirm a diagnosis of contact dermatitis by examining the skin.

If your doctor suspects allergic contact dermatitis,  may use allergy tests to identify the allergen.


There are three types of contact dermatitis:

  • Allergic
  • Irritant
  • Photo

Photocontact dermatitis type is less common than others. It is a reaction that can occur when the active ingredients in a skin product are exposed to sunlight and cause irritation.

Causes of allergic contact dermatitis

This disease occurs when the skin develops an allergic reaction after exposure to a foreign substance. This causes the body to release inflammatory chemicals that can cause the skin to feel itchy.

Common causes of allergic contact dermatitis include contact with:

  • jewelry made of nickel or gold
  • latex gloves
  • perfumes or chemicals in cosmetics and skincare products
  • poison oak or poison ivy

Causes of irritant contact dermatitis

Irritant dermatitis is the most common type of dermatitis. Occurs when the skin comes into contact with a toxic substance.

Toxic substances that can cause this situation include:

  • Battery acid
  • Laundry bleach
  • Drain cleaners
  • Kerosene (kerosene or paraffin)
  • Detergents
  • Pepper spray

Irritant dermatitis can also occur if the skin comes into contact with less irritating substances – such as soap or even water – too often.

People whose hands are frequently exposed to water, such as hairdressers, bartenders and healthcare workers, often develop symptoms of irritant dermatitis on their hands.


In most cases, the rash and other reactions will disappear after exposure to the substance ends.

It may take some time for the rash to heal and disappear completely. For example, a rash from poison ivy stays longer because the oils from the plant have seeped into the skin. When the oil runs out, the spills are cleared up.

It is best for a person not to come into contact with substances found to cause mentioned disease. On contact, it is a good idea to clean the area with some warm water and soap to potentially prevent a rash.

Most treatment options include home remedies. Among them:

  • Applying anti-itch ointments to infected skin
  • Taking an oatmeal bath (or similar)
  • Taking antihistamine medications
  • Avoiding scratching the infected area to help prevent infections.

In extreme cases, the person may need to consult an allergist. Allergists may prescribe ointments, creams, or prescription medications to treat contact dermatitis.