Contact Dermatitis: Allergic Reactions, Symptoms & Treatment


Contact Dermatitis is known by different names. Normally, people know it as rashes while the doctors may refer to it as dermatitis. It doesn’t matter what we call it but it definitely causes problems if you have it. Contact dermatitis is such a condition in which the skin turns red when you touch something. There may be various reasons why you may have the condition, for example, it may be because of an allergy or damage to the outer layer of skin.

What may trigger the allergic reactions?

If the contact dermatitis is caused because of an allergy then we may have some problems with the immune system. Actually, the immune system mistakenly thinks that it is under attack when we touch something. After that, the immune system gets to work immediately and produces antibodies to fight the invader. In this process, different reactions happen in the body and it also produces different chemicals including histamine. Histamine is the chemical which causes the allergic reaction or an itchy kind of rash. This is known as allergic contact dermatitis.


There are many things which may trigger the condition. Some of the main factors are as mentioned below:

  1. Use of Latex rubber.
  2. Fragrances used in different daily use objects like soaps, perfumes, cosmetics, shampoos, lotions etc.
  3. Leathers including chemicals used while tanning leather.
  4. Citrus fruits like orange including the peel of the fruits.
  5. Hair dyes and hair strengtheners.
  6. Nickel, which is a metal found in jewelry and buckles of a belt.
  7. Plants like poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac.

If you are allergic to something then in normal conditions you may not get allergic in the very first time you touch that thing. That touch will actually cause sensation to the skin and it will cause a reaction in the next time. If you think that you have got an allergic reaction in the first contact itself then there may be possible chances of you having touched the thing beforehand but you didn’t know it.


Damage to the skin (Contact Dermatitis)

In some conditions, the rashes may look like an allergic reaction but they are not allergic reactions to real. It is not an allergic reaction unless your immune system is involved in that. Actually, you may have come into contact with something which affected the oil protecting the outer layer of the skin. If the thing will stay on the skin for a long time then the conditions could get worse. This kind of irritant is known as irritant contact dermatitis. This kind of reaction is more likely to happen in case of a condition called eczema.

Symptoms of the rashes

Most of the symptoms related to contact dermatitis or irritant contact dermatitis are more or less the same. There can be blisters on the skin or raised kind of red rashes. There may be feeling of itching and burning sensation on the skin. If the itching or damage of the skin is caused because of something then the reaction may be immediately noticed but with some rashes but if it is an allergy then the symptoms may be noticed in a few days. The symptom of the contact allergy is seen around the place where you touched the allergic thing. Skin damage or irritant contact dermatitis is more troublesome as it causes more pain and itching.


Home treatment and remedies

The best way to stay safe is to avoid those things which cause allergic reactions. Stay away from those things or substances. If you have allergic reactions then wash the skin with a mild type of soap and water immediately. It would be better if you are able to get rid of the substance which causes the allergic reaction. If the problem and the rashes are seen in a small area then a cream known as hydrocortisone can be used to get relief. Similarly, if you have blisters then cold moist compress can be done for 30 minutes, three times in a day for home treatment. If the skin is damaged then it will be better if you use moisturizers to reform the outer protective layer of the skin. There are also Oral antihistamines available which can help to make you comfortable. However, we recommend you not to use antihistamine lotion without consulting a doctor because they may cause a more allergic reaction.

Seek medical advice in following conditions

You need to seek medical advice if the home treatment and remedies do not work to ease away the problem. Sometimes, the rashes may cause more pain and irritation and in such conditions, you should visit a doctor to treat the problem. The doctor may ask you about the problem and your medical history to understand the condition. The doctor may prescribe different medicines including steroid pills or ointments depending on the severity of the situation. Similarly, you may also be prescribed with an antihistamine. You may have to do a skin test to find out the main cause of the allergy. If it is hard to avoid the thing which causes allergy to you then you may seek advice from the doctor whether it would be better to wear gloves or apply a cream on the sensitive area.

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