4 home remedies

contact dermatitis
For mild contact dermatitis, the following simple home remedies can help get rid of the rash fast.

Contact dermatitis usually resolves with simple home remedies within two to four weeks if the trigger is also removed. If it does not get better, the doctor will prescribe strong treatments.

For mild contact dermatitis, simple home remedies are sufficient to get rid of the rash fast, such as:

  1. Moisturizing several times
    • Moisturizing the cracked and dry skin of contact dermatitis provides a soothing effect. It promotes skin healing and repairs the skin barrier.
    • Even after the rash disappears, the moisturizer can help prevent further attacks of contact dermatitis. However, buy the ones that mention “hypo-allergenic” and “fragrance-free” on their labels.
  2. Using cool compresses
    • You can prepare a cool compress by dipping a cotton cloth in water and applying it over the rash for 10 to 15 minutes. Repeat this at least four to five times a day. This can help relieve the itch, pain, or discomfort.
  3. Taking oatmeal baths
    • Take lukewarm or oatmeal baths because these are soothing. Do not get tempted to use scented soaps, fragranced body washes, or bubble baths for this purpose. Sometimes, any soap can irritate your skin during the rash. Hence, you can wash your body with plain water only.
    • For oatmeal baths, you can buy fragrance-free colloidal oatmeal bath additives from stores or prepare one at home.
  4. Identifying the cause and avoiding it
    • The most important thing that can help you prevent the contact dermatitis rash from worsening is to identify the thing that has triggered the skin condition.
    • Ask yourself whether you have used anything on your skin, such as a new eyeliner, foundation, compact, or a new perfume, in the past seven days. If yes, you need to discontinue using it and see if it helps subside the rash.

How to avoid skin irritants

Sometimes, your workplace can be the source of irritants that have triggered your rash. Workplaces, where such irritants exist, include beauty parlors, hospitals, kitchens, florist shops, and manufacturing units.

If you work at these places, you can wear protective gear, such as gloves, face masks, goggles, long-sleeved tops or shirts, and full pants. Take precautions to not let the irritants touch the skin directly. If you are allergic to the latex used in gloves, switch to non-latex gloves.

Nickel is a common cause of contact dermatitis. You know you are allergic to nickel if exposure to nickel-containing items causes skin rashes and itchiness in the part that has come into contact with it. These items include:

  • Jewelry (especially earrings)
  • Keys
  • Mobile phones
  • Eyeglasses
  • Snaps
  • Zippers
  • Buttons
  • Coins
  • Utensils
  • Metal tools
  • Batteries
  • Bathroom fixtures
  • Furniture parts
  • Machinery parts
  • Instruments

Clothing accessories, such as zippers, snaps, belt buckles, bra hooks, metal buttons, and zippers, are most likely to contain nickel. While buying these items, look for the ones that are plastic or coated with plastic. If you already have nickel-containing clothing accessories, coat them with nail polish to create a barrier.

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3 over-the-counter medications

For mild contact dermatitis or dermatitis that does not clear up with the above home remedies, you can try certain over-the-counter medications that can be used for faster relief, such as:

  1. Hydrocortisone cream: When the above home remedies do not work, you can ask your pharmacist for an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream for fast relief from itching, pain, and inflammation. Apply it at least four to five times a day for two to three weeks. Avoid using it for the long term unless advised by your doctor because it can cause thinning of the skin.
  2. Nonsteroidal lotions: Nonsteroidal, over-the-counter, anti-itch lotions, such as calamine lotion, relieve itching, and soothe dryness. You need to apply about three to four times daily. Though these kinds of lotions are usually not known to cause skin sensitivity, always make sure you look for skin-friendly or hypo-allergenic ingredients.
  3. Antihistamine pills: Antihistamines block the chemicals that cause itching in contact dermatitis. You can ask your pharmacist for antihistamine pills, such as:

5 prescription medications

If the home remedies and over-the-counter medications are not improving your rash or if the rash is severe, widespread, or worsening, you need to contact your doctor who may prescribe medications.

  1. Steroid creams: Your doctor will most likely prescribe you any of the steroid creams that include
    • Prescription (higher dose) hydrocortisone
    • Triamcinolone
    • Clobetasol
  2. Steroid pills: In severe cases, your doctor may put you on the oral steroid pill, prednisolone. Take the medications as prescribed and do not discontinue even if the rash clears unless your doctor asks you to do so.
  3. Antibiotics: Your doctor may put you on a course of antibiotics if they spot signs of infection in your contact dermatitis rash.
  4. Topical immunomodulators: Topical immunomodulators are medications that work on your immune system to alleviate inflammation. They are usually reserved when steroids fail to work.
  5. Light therapy: Light therapy, also called phototherapy, is only used if other treatments have not done much to improve your contact dermatitis. The therapy uses a special lamp that emits ultraviolet light on specific affected areas.

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Medically Reviewed on 3/15/2022
References
Image Source: iStock Images

Finch J. Contact Dermatitis: An Overview. Medscape. https://reference.medscape.com/slideshow/contact-dermatitis-6013071

Helm TN. Allergic Contact Dermatitis. Medscape. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1049216-overview#a2

Aneja S. Irritant Contact Dermatitis. Medscape. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1049353-overview