When you’re diagnosed with atopic or contact dermatitis, it means your skin becomes inflamed in response to a trigger. Your skin may become red, and you may experience blisters that ooze. While symptoms vary from person to person, dermatitis almost always causes intense itching.

If you’ve been diagnosed with or suspect that you or a loved one has dermatitis, seeing an allergy and immunology specialist is the first step to getting effective treatment. In this blog, Ulrike Ziegner, MD, at Riviera Allergy Medical Center explains how you can avoid dermatitis triggers.

Atopic dermatitis

While the term dermatitis is commonly used to describe various skin rashes, there are two types of dermatitis: atopic and contact. Atopic dermatitis is a genetic condition that parents pass down to their children. While it can occur at any time, it’s most often diagnosed in infants and very young children. Some children grow out of atopic dermatitis, and the condition goes into remission in adulthood. About 50% of people who are diagnosed with atopic dermatitis as children will continue to experience symptoms as adults.


Atopic dermatitis is strongly linked to environmental allergies. However, some people find that certain foods trigger flare-ups or cause their symptoms to worsen.

Infants with atopic dermatitis may have:

  • Red patches of skin
  • Rash on cheeks, neck, and trunk
  • Dry patches of skin
  • Rash that oozes

In adolescents and adults, typical symptoms are:

  • Rash on creases of hands, inner elbows, wrists, behind knees, ankles, and neck
  • Dry, scaly skin
  • Rash that crusts, cracks or bleeds


The most common atopic dermatitis triggers are:

  • Allergens (Food and Environmental Allergies)
  • Stress
  • Sweat
  • Temperatures that are too hot or too cold
  • Hormones

Controlling atopic dermatitis triggers

It isn’t always possible to eliminate atopic dermatitis triggers, but you can do things to reduce your triggers and control flare-ups. Many people experience flare-ups when they sweat or their skin becomes too hot. If this sounds like you, do as much as you can to keep your skin cool and dry. In the summer, carry a towel with you and blot away sweat. Dr. Ziegner can perform an allergy test to hone in on any potential allergies that are triggering your flare-ups.

Limiting your exposure to allergens can also help to manage flare-ups. Children and adults with atopic dermatitis have skin that is dry and sensitive. Using a specially formulated moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated can help you avoid triggering a flare-up. Dr. Ziegner can provide a comprehensive evaluation and discuss the best ways for you to manage your atopic dermatitis.

Contact dermatitis


Children and adults with contact dermatitis develop a rash when their skin comes in contact with certain substances. The immune system overreacts, and a rash develops over time. Symptoms include:

  • Blisters
  • Dry, cracked skin
  • Redness
  • Skin that feels hot to the touch
  • Itching
  • Swelling


People who have contact dermatitis typically experience symptoms (Please eliminate: immediate!) upon contact with the trigger, commonly as delayed reactions. Triggers can vary, but the most common contact dermatitis triggers are:

  • Metals
  • Soaps, shampoos, detergents, fabric softeners
  • Rubber/Latex
  • Fragrances
  • Dyes, including hair dye
  • Shaving cream,deodorants
  • Ointments, creams and lotions (cosmetics and drugs)
  • Make up

Controlling contact dermatitis triggers

Limiting your exposure to your triggers plays a major role in successfully managing contact dermatitis.  (Please scratch that sentence: Because symptoms tend to occur immediately upon exposure to the trigger, patients often have some idea of what substances trigger or make their symptoms worse.) Dr. Ziegner specializes in diagnosing and treating dermatitis in patients of all ages, and he can help you determine the substances that trigger your flare-ups.

Once you’re aware of your triggers, you can make the appropriate changes and adjustments to limit your exposure, so you can get flare-ups under control.

To learn more about controlling dermatitis flare-ups, or to see if you have dermatitis, book an appointment online or over the phone with Riviera Allergy Medical Center today.

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