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What You Need to Know About Contact Dermatitis

How Is It Diagnosed?

In order to diagnose contact dermatitis, your healthcare provider will ask a number of questions about when the symptoms started, what types of skin care products you use, what you do for a living, and what your hobbies are. He or she will also look at the rash.
Based on the answers to the questions, as well as the way the rash looks, your healthcare provider may have a general idea of what is causing your symptoms. If he or she thinks this is contact dermatitis, specific treatments will be recommended. If your healthcare provider is unsure, he or she may recommend additional tests to help narrow down the cause. One of these tests is patch testing.
(Click Diagnosing Contact Dermatitis to learn more about patch testing and how the condition is diagnosed.)

Treating Contact Dermatitis

The recommended treatment for contact dermatitis in your particular situation will depend on several factors, including:
  • The cause of your symptoms
  • The severity of your symptoms
  • Your age and overall health.
Treatments may include:
  • Avoiding the substance: Figuring out what is causing contact dermatitis and then avoiding it will go a long way toward helping current symptoms, as well as preventing a recurrence in the future.
  • Medications: Depending on the severity of contact dermatitis, treatment with medications may be required. Your doctor may recommend a medication that is applied directly to the affected area, taken by mouth, or taken by injection. Medications may include:
    • Steroids to help with the redness, itching, and swelling
    • Antihistamines to help with itching
    • Antibiotics if the area has become infected.
  • Lubricants or other treatments: Lubricant creams or ointments, such as Cetaphil®, Eucerin®, and Aquaphor®, help to restore the skin's moisture, increase the rate of healing, and establish a barrier against further drying and irritation. Other treatments, such as wet compresses or colloidal oatmeal (Aveeno®) may be recommended with certain types of contact dermatitis.
(Click Treatment for Contact Dermatitis to learn more about treating this condition. Click Contact Dermatitis Prevention to learn more about preventing it.)

Contact Dermatitis Information

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