Font Size

Contact Dermatitis (cont.)

What Are Contact Dermatitis Risk Factors?

Exposure to normal or damaged skin to irritating chemical or known allergens is a significant risk. Anyone who compulsively washes their hands many times a day can develop a dermatitis induced by simple soap and water. Common solvents used in the workplace can damage the skin, producing an irritant dermatitis and permitting allergens access to the deeper tissues. The practice of ear piercing is known to predispose to nickel allergy. The use of topical antibiotics like neomycin is associated with an allergy to this antibiotic.

Is Contact Dermatitis Contagious?

Contact dermatitis is not caused by an infectious microorganism and is not contagious. Since the condition can produce open raw skin, a secondary infection can occur on the damaged skin. This secondary infection can be contagious.

What Are Signs and Symptoms of Contact Dermatitis?

Distinguishing allergic contact dermatitis from irritant contact dermatitis and other forms of 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, but topical contact hives occurs and is mediated by antibodies.
  • 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 9/11/2017

Must Read Articles Related to Contact Dermatitis

Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac
Allergy: Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac can causes an learn more >>
Eczema Eczema is a term frequently used to describe any ...learn more >>
Dandruff: Who Gets It?
who gets dandruff Doctors aren't sure exactly what causes dandruff...learn more >>

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Contact Dermatitis:

Contact Dermatitis - Treatment

What treatment was effective for your contact dermatitis?

Contact Dermatitis - Experience

Please describe your experience with contact dermatitis.

Contact Dermatitis - Symptoms

What are the symptoms of your contact dermatitis?

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Contact Dermatitis, Allergic »

The term contact dermatitis sometimes is used incorrectly as a synonym for allergic contact dermatitis (ACD).

Read More on Medscape Reference »

Medical Dictionary