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Contact Dermatitis

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Contact dermatitis is skin inflammation that occurs when certain substances that come into contact with the skin cause irritation or an allergic reaction. The result is a red, itchy rash that can be uncomfortable, but isn’t contagious or life-threatening. This reaction differs from hives or urticarial which may be associated with swelling of the lips and mouth and may affect breathing. Contact dermatitis only affects the skin.

Contact dermatitis may occur in locations which come into direct contact with an allergen such as on the ears in patients with metal allergies or may appear in areas where the skin is very thin and therefore more sensitive such as eyelids. Eyelid skin is so thin that it may absorb allergens in the air such as perfumes. There are numerous contact allergens from fragrances to rubber additives to preservatives.

Some people do not have a true allergic contact dermatitis; instead their skin is irritated by substances such as harsh soaps.

A dermatologist can help determine if a patient is having an allergic reaction or if something is irritating the skin. Our clinic will discuss numerous products that are safe to use on the skin and help to determine which products should be avoided.

Symptoms of Contact Dermatitis

  • Red rash or bumps
  • Severe to mild itching
  • Dry, cracked, red patches, which may resemble a burn
  • Blisters, draining fluid and crusting in severe reactions
  • Skin rash limited to an exposed area — for example, directly under a watchband
  • Pain or tenderness

Causes of Contact Dermatitis

Common causes include certain types of soap, cosmetics, fragrances, jewelry, or plants including poison ivy and poison oak.

Treatments for Contact Dermatitis

  • Avoiding the irritant or allergen
  • Applying anti-itch creams or wet compresses
  • Using oral medications

If you feel your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, please contact Florida Center for Pediatric Dermatology at 407.303.1687 or through our online contact form.