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Contact Dermatitis (cont.)

Contact Dermatitis Symptoms and Signs

Distinguishing allergic contact dermatitis from irritant contact dermatitis and other forms of eczematous dermatitis can be challenging. A full history and physical examination are frequently necessary.

  • A red rash is the usual reaction. It appears immediately in irritant contact dermatitis, but in allergic contact dermatitis, the rash does not appear for one to two days after the exposure.
  • Your skin may develop small fluid filled structures (vesicles) that can cause weeping, a characteristic of these sorts of eruptions. This condition is distinguished from hives (urticaria) that produce short-lived itchy welts (wheals). Hives are most often induced by allergic reactions to orally ingested foods and drugs.
  • Your skin will itch and perhaps burn. Irritant contact dermatitis can be more painful than itchy.
  • Irritant contact dermatitis often affects the hands, which have been exposed by resting in or dipping into a container (sink, pail, tub) containing the irritant.
  • Once a reaction starts, it may take as long as four weeks to resolve completely.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/15/2014

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