Contact Dermatitis Treatment
- What It Is
- Risk Factors
- Living With
- User Questions
- Alternative Treatment
- Care Guide
- Questions for Your Doctor
- When to Contact a Doctor
- Find a Doctor
- Resource Guide
How to Treat Contact Dermatitis
The primary goal of treatment is to identify the substance causing the reaction and remove or avoid it. This could take several days or weeks of avoiding certain substances.
If you cannot identify the cause of your skin reaction, you may need to undergo a skin patch test. In a patch test, a small amount of the suspected substance is applied to the skin and covered with tape. Another patch without the substance on it is also attached to the skin. Both patches are removed after a period of time. If your skin is red and swollen under the suspect patch, and not under the other patch, you are probably allergic to that substance.
Treatment also focuses on caring for skin and relieving symptoms. Methods include:
- Wash the area with water and mild soap or cleanser and gently pat dry.
- Apply a barrier ointment such as petrolatum or vaseline.
- Do not poke at or cut open blisters. They can become infected.
- Cover blisters with dry bandages.
Do not use any of these medications until after you have discussed them with your doctor.
- Over-the-counter or prescription creams and ointments containing cortisone
- Prescription medications containing corticosteroids, such as prednisone (for severe cases)
- Prescription or over-the-counter antihistamines (may relieve itching in some cases, but not always useful for contact dermatitis)
- Phototherapy or immunosuppressants, such as menthotrexate or cyclosporine, in the most severe, resistant, and chronic cases