Contact Dermatitis


Contact dermatitis is an inflammatory skin condition that is caused when the skin comes into contact with a substance that acts as an irritant or allergen. Contact dermatitis can be classified as a type of eczema.

What are the Causes of Contact Dermatitis?

There are two main causes of contact dermatitis:

  1. Irritant Contact Dermatitis
    Irritant contact dermatitis is the most commonly occurring type of contact dermatitis. According to the National Eczema Association, approximately 80% of all contact dermatitis cases are due to irritant dermatitis. People with irritant contact dermatitis do not experience an allergic reaction. Instead, they develop a rash after coming into repeated contact with an irritant such as a cleanser, soap, or even detergent.
  1. Allergic Contact Dermatitis
    Allergic contact dermatitis occurs when your skin comes into contact with an allergen. As a result, the body develops an allergic reaction to the substance resulting in an itchy rash. The allergic reaction generally does not occur with the initial exposure. It is the subsequent exposures that result in an allergic reaction.

Common allergens include:

  • Plants such as poison ivy
  • Metals such as nickel
  • Medications such as antibiotic ointments
  • Personal care products such as sunscreens, wet wipes, or hair dyes
  • Airborne substances such as ragweed pollen and insecticides

What are the Symptoms of Contact Dermatitis?

Common symptoms of contact dermatitis include:

  • Itching, which can be severe
  • Burning, stinging, or pain
  • Rash which can be red, scaly, flaky, or bumpy
  • Swelling, blistering, oozing or crusting

What is the Treatment for Contact Dermatitis?

A dermatologist can accurately diagnose your condition and recommend a treatment regimen that works for you.

At your visit, your provider will examine your skin and may ask you a series of questions related to your health, skin care practices, job, hobbies, and activities. Your provider may suggest or discuss pursuing patch testing: a process where multiple small patches containing different ingredients are applied to the patient’s back in an attempt to determine what substances are causing an allergic reaction.

The most common treatments options for contact dermatitis include:

  • Avoiding irritants and allergens. Your provider will help you try to identify and avoid any substances which may be irritating your skin or causing an allergic reaction. Oftentimes, dermatologists may recommend methods to protect your skin and avoid further contact with the irritant or allergen such as wearing gloves to do household chores.
  • Establishing a gentle skin care routine. Your provider may recommend using only mild, fragrance-free cleansers and applying a good emollient such as a moisturizing cream on a regular basis.
  • Medications: Topical steroids are often used to treat contact dermatitis. For the most severe, widespread cases, your provider may consider oral steroids.

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Serving Patients in and around Palm Beach County

Palm Beach Dermatology has been serving patients in and around Palm Beach County for over twenty years, we are a full-service dermatology and dermatological surgery practice with special emphasis on the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer. All physicians in our group are Board Certified by The American Board of Dermatology and are Fellows of the American Academy of Dermatology. We invite you to visit us at Palm Beach Dermatology to find out why you can trust our skin care team.

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    Marilyn T.
  • "Dr. Muhart is truly a very caring and professional doctor. I have referred many friends, family members and co-workers to her office knowing they will get great care."
    Karen C.
  • "Dr. Lifshitz has an incredibly gentle bedside manner. He diagnoses issues with ease and offers possible ways to address them so the patient can make the best decision for him or herself. I know I am in great hands with Dr. Lifshitz."
    Ami S.
  • "The office team is very personable and friendly. When you walk in you feel like family. Brian is the best. I have been going to Brian for over 5 years and would never change. It is great to see him again and the staff. Absolutely wonderful!!"
  • "Dr. Kowalczyk and his staff are awesome! The office staff is both efficient and friendly. His exam is thorough. I will definitely be back!"
    Jenna J.
  • "As a longtime skin cancer patient I’m impressed with Dr. Kelley’s professionalism and follow-ups. She and her staff are all about results and patient satisfaction. Quite different from the other “Mohs Mills”!"
    Woody B.
  • "Dr. Fayne saw my daughter for her acne. He was great with her and explained everything so she could understand. We love the office staff too!"
    Kristen B.
  • "I have been seeing Dr. DiBacco going on 10 years. Truly, a great dermatologist. He cares and is very personable. He is detailed with his assessments and treatments. What more could you ask for except a great personality? Oh, and he has that too!"
    Alex M.
  • "Dr. Cohen makes you feel like part of his family. He is very thorough in his exams and keeps you informed during your dermatological office visits and any telephone follow-ups."
    Steven D.