The skin condition known as allergic contact dermatitis occurs when an allergen irritates the skin, causing a very itchy rash.
Although exposure to these allergens won’t develop into contact dermatitis for most people, it sometimes only takes a small amount of exposure to develop the condition for those with more sensitive skin.
It usually takes frequent or repeated exposure to the allergen for an individual to develop this skin condition, sometimes over the course of months or years. But unfortunately, once developed, allergic contact dermatitis is likely to occur for life whenever the person is exposed to that allergen.
What causes this allergic skin rash varies from person to person, but some common allergens include the following:
- Perfumes or fragrances from lotion or other cosmetic supplies
- Plants such as poison oak or poison ivy
- Medications or chemicals
- Rubber or latex
- Metals, including nickel (often present in jewelry and common clothing items such as belt buckles)
These substances can all potentially act as allergens that cause your skin to become red, swollen, blistered, or cause hives.
For some, the reaction appears within hours of contact. This allergic reaction will form at the location in which the allergen touched the skin, which makes it a bit easier to figure out exactly what caused it. Reactions on the ear lobes or on the wrist may indicate a nickel allergy from earrings or a watch. Development of contact dermatitis on the hands may have been caused by latex or rubber gloves or possibly contact with a chemical cleaner.
Even though it is usually focused to the point of contact, on occasion the rash can spread to other parts of the body.
The chief way of treating contact dermatitis is to remove the allergen from your home environment so that you are no longer exposed to it.
There are also several other options for treating it in , including using moisturizers (to protect the skin), antihistamines (to reduce itchiness), topical immunimodulators or corticosteroids, or prednisone and other oral steroids.
Your dermatologist will listen to your concerns and prescribe a treatment method that will be the best for your situation. Healing cases of contact dermatitis generally takes several days or weeks.