Treatment for Contact Dermatitis

Once offending chemicals or substances are identified, either by history or by patch testing, they can be eliminated. Afterward, the skin eventually heals on its own.

In addition to avoiding irritating or allergy-producing chemicals, treatment of contact dermatitis is directed toward symptom relief. Drying agents applied to blistered and weeping areas and moisturizers applied to chronic lesions that are thick and scaly often have an ameliorating effect.

The itch, at times severe, is best treated with topical corticosteroid creams. While this often suffices, severe and extensive involvement usually necessitates the use of systemic corticosteroids. Long-term use of corticosteroids is not recommended, however.

Contact Dermatitis Prevention

Once the allergen that is causing allergic contact dermatitis is identified, it can be more easily avoided. When preservatives or fragrances are the culprits, the individual must learn to read the labels of creams and lotions to avoid exposure.

Strong, irritating chemicals can be replaced by less harsh equivalents. When exposure cannot be avoided in the workplace, contact with those chemicals can be minimized by wearing protective gloves and clothing. When there is no alternative, an affected individual may have to change his or her occupation or modify job responsibilities in order to avoid exposure.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 31 Aug 2000

Last Modified: 10 Sep 2015