Out of every 100,000 workers, more than 20 suffer from contact dermatitis that necessitates either time off from work or a change in profession. Dr. Ulrike Ziegner at Riviera Allergy Medical Center in Redondo Beach, California treats itchy rashes that interfere with everyday life. Call or make an appointment online today.

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What is contact dermatitis?

Contact dermatitis is another name for an allergic reaction caused by direct contact with an allergen. Contact dermatitis causes your skin to become inflamed. This reaction to certain chemicals and other biologic or physical agents produces a rash on your skin.

Most cases of contact dermatitis develop due to frequent and repeated exposure to a particular substance including:

  • Soaps
  • Cosmetics — some of the dyes used can cause irritation
  • Fragrances
  • Jewelry — made from nickel or mercury
  • Plants — poison oak, sumac, ivy
  • Medicines — penicillin, sulfa based, neomycin, and paraben

Contact dermatitis is often a delayed reaction and takes 24 to 48 hours after exposure to appear.

What are the symptoms of contact dermatitis?

The most severe reaction occurs at the contact site. The most common symptoms of contact dermatitis include skin:

  • Swelling and mild redness
  • Blistering and bumps that ooze and crust over
  • Burning, tenderness, and itching
  • Thickening and appearing scaly

How is contact dermatitis diagnosed?

Dr. Ziegner diagnoses most cases of contact dermatitis through examination of the affected area and your response to a series of questions including occupation, symptoms, allergen and family history, and recent use of new substances on your skin.

Dr. Ziegner also does patch testing. Patch testing involves placing small amounts of diluted chemicals on a strip of tape called a patch, placed on your back and left there for 48 hours. After two days, Dr. Ziegner removes the tape and looks at your back for any allergic reactions. An additional observation is done two to three days later.

How is contact dermatitis treated?

The most important step in successfully managing contact dermatitis is identifying and avoiding the irritant responsible. To treat your rash symptoms, Dr. Ziegner recommends using both a moisturizer and an anti-itch cream. Other treatments include:

  • Oral medications including antihistamines and antibiotics
  • Cool, wet compresses
  • Topical or oral steroids

It is best to try and avoid scratching and to wash exposed areas and clothes with mild soap.

If your rash is interfering with your everyday life, call or make an appointment online today with Dr. Ulrike Ziegner at Riviera Allergy Medical Center in Redondo Beach, California.