What is it?

Contact dermatitis is an itchy rash caused by direct contact with a substance or an allergic reaction to it. The rash isn't contagious, but it can be very uncomfortable.
Many substances can cause this reaction, such as cosmetics, fragrances, jewelry and plants. The rash often shows up within days of exposure.

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Additional names

This group contains additional names:
- Perioral dermatitis

Signs & symptoms

Contact dermatitis shows up on skin that has been directly exposed to the substance causing the reaction. For example, the rash may show up along a leg that brushed against poison ivy. The rash can develop within minutes to hours of exposure, and it can last 2 to 4 weeks.
Signs and symptoms of contact dermatitis vary widely and may include:
* An itchy rash
* Leathery patches that are darker than usual (hyperpigmented), typically on brown or Black skin
* Dry, cracked, scaly skin, typically on white skin
* Bumps and blisters, sometimes with oozing and crusting
* Swelling, burning or tenderness


The doctor may be able to diagnose contact dermatitis by talking to you about your signs and symptoms. You might be asked questions to help identify the cause of your condition and uncover clues about the trigger substance. And you'll likely undergo a skin exam to assess the rash.
The doctor may suggest a patch test to identify the cause of the rash. In this test, small amounts of potential allergens are put on sticky patches. Then the patches are placed on your skin. They stay on your skin for 2 to 3 days. During this time, you'll need to keep your back dry. Then your health care provider checks for skin reactions under the patches and determines whether further testing is needed.
This test can be useful if the cause of your rash isn't apparent or if your rash recurs often. But the redness indicating a reaction can be hard to see on brown or Black skin, which may lead to a missed diagnosis.


* Steroid creams or ointments.
* Pills to reduce swelling, relieve itching or fight a bacterial infection.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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