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Contact Dermatitis (cont.)

What Is the Medical Treatment for Contact Dermatitis?

Treatment usually consists of medications to relieve the symptoms until the rash can go away on its own.

What Medications Treat Contact Dermatitis?

  • Corticosteroids, either oral or topical depending on the severity of the reaction.
    • A topical corticosteroid cream or ointment stronger than hydrocortisone may be prescribed to combat inflammation in a localized area. If the reaction covers a relatively large portion of the skin or is severe, a corticosteroid that is taken as pills or as an injection may be prescribed.
    • If the reaction covers a relatively large portion of the skin or is severe, a corticosteroid that is taken as pills or as an injection may be prescribed.
  • Antihistamines: Prescription antihistamines may be given if nonprescription strengths are not adequate.

When Is Follow-up Necessary After the Initial Treatment of Contact Dermatitis?

Avoid scratching, which worsens the inflammation. Continue self-care until all symptoms are gone.

If you have been treated by your health care provider, complete the recommended treatment.

If you are taking oral steroid medication, finish the entire prescription, or the rash may come back. You may be taking medicine for only three to five days, or for as long as four weeks, depending on the severity of your reaction.

If you have frequent dermatitis, you may want to see a dermatologist to identify the cause.

Is There a Way to Prevent Contact Dermatitis?

If you know what causes the dermatitis, avoid that trigger. If you cannot avoid the trigger altogether, take steps to protect your skin from the trigger.

Wearing protective clothing such as long sleeves, long pants, and gloves helps protect the skin from allergens and irritants.

Protection is especially important at an industrial site, but it is also important when working outdoors where you could come in contact with plants from the poison ivy family as well as with lawn and garden chemicals, cleaning solvents, and other toxic substances.

Take care to avoid poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac when enjoying the outdoors.

If you do become exposed, wash the area immediately with soap and cool water to prevent a rash from developing.

If you have dermatitis often and you do not know what is causing it, you may want to see a skin allergy specialist.

  • You will be asked questions to try to determine what may be causing the reactions.
  • If the questions do not reveal the cause, skin patch tests may be applied to identify the trigger.
  • You can then take steps to avoid the trigger. There is no treatment to "cure" the allergy so the allergen must be avoided in order to prevent symptoms.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/11/2017

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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 »

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