Most cases of contact dermatitis show symptoms within hours after exposure to the allergen or irritant, whereas others may take anywhere between one to seven days.
The signs and symptoms of irritant contact dermatitis are limited only to the area that was exposed to the allergen while that of allergic contact dermatitis can start from a single patch to become widespread.
What treatment makes contact dermatitis go away fast?
The main treatment of contact dermatitis is to avoid the offending agent. However, treatments can make the contact dermatitis go away faster and provide relief from pain, itchiness, and rash and halt the progression of the condition.
- Applying moisturizer or emollient creams on the affected skin several times a day may be all that you need for mild contact dermatitis. The moisturizer helps seal the skin barrier and repairs the cracked skin.
- Even after the rash disappears, the regular application of moisturizing creams or lotions can form a protective barrier over the skin and prevent recurrent contact dermatitis.
- Topical steroids
- Topical steroids are steroid medications available in the form of creams, ointments, and lotions. You can buy a mild steroid cream, such as over-the-counter (OTC) hydrocortisone cream, from pharmacies. If the OTC cream does not provide relief, your doctor may prescribe a stronger version of the cream.
- Applying steroid cream for less than four weeks usually causes no problems. Side effects, such as thinning of the skin, may occur if they are applied for prolonged periods.
- Your doctor may prescribe you a course of antibiotics if they see the rash developing signs of infection, such as pus formation.
- Oral steroids
- Severe cases of contact dermatitis may need a few weeks of oral steroids. The most used one is prednisolone. You need to take the medication as prescribed and do not discontinue it unless your doctor has advised you to do so. Abrupt stopping of steroids can cause worsening of the condition.
- Other treatments
- If all other treatments have failed to improve your contact dermatitis, options may include an immunomodulatory cream, such as tacrolimus cream, and treatment with immunosuppressant medicines, such as azathioprine or cyclosporine.
- Immunomodulators and immunosuppressants are medicines that work on your immune system to reduce the inflammation of contact dermatitis.
Your doctor may recommend light therapy or phototherapy, which is not a common treatment for contact dermatitis. It is reserved only for patients who have not responded well to other treatments. The therapy involves exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, and sometimes, it is used in combination with a medicine called psoralen. This is called psoralen combined with ultraviolet A treatment (PUVA).
Home remedies that you can try include:
What are the symptoms of contact dermatitis?
Symptoms of contact dermatitis include a skin rash that is:
- Burning or stinging
- Cracking, peeling, or flaking the skin
- Blistering that may ooze and crust over
How is contact dermatitis diagnosed?
Your doctor will examine your skin with the naked eye or with the help of a magnifying lens. It can reveal clues to the underlying diagnosis of irritant or allergic contact dermatitis. They will take your history to find the offending agent.
The doctor may want to know your occupation, hobbies, any recent use of new jewelry or cosmetics, and other possible agents that are known to cause contact dermatitis.
- Your doctor will ask you to stay away from the most likely offending agent (allergen) for a while to ascertain their diagnosis. If that is not sufficient for the diagnosis, further diagnostic testing may be ordered.
- One such test includes a patch test in which diluted amounts of common allergens will be applied to your skin, and the skin will be observed for any reaction after 48 hours. This will let your doctor know about the allergen in allergic contact dermatitis.
Irritant contact dermatitis does not have any diagnostic test to confirm the diagnosis. Your doctor will likely confirm the condition based on the signs and symptoms and your medical history.
Latest Skin News
Daily Health News
Can contact dermatitis be prevented?
Once the contact dermatitis rash has settled, the main aim is to prevent it from happening again. So, you first need to identify the irritants or allergens that cause your skin to break out in a rash. Then you need to avoid those substances or take steps to prevent skin exposure to them.
Other steps you can take to help prevent flare-ups include:
- Wear protective clothing, including gloves, long sleeves, pants, protective eyewear, or a face mask when you must be around allergens or irritants. This is particularly important for people working as janitors or in kitchens, beauty parlors, construction sites, and manufacturing units.
- Cover up nickel-containing accessories, such as metal fasteners, on your clothing that might irritate your skin.
- Apply moisturizing creams or lotions regularly.
- Choose shampoos, soaps, and other household products that are fragrance-free and free from allergens.
- Choose cosmetic products that mention the terms, “hypoallergenic” and “fragrance-free” on their labels.
- Wash your skin thoroughly immediately with lukewarm water and mild soap after coming into contact with an irritant or allergen.
By avoiding irritants and allergens, taking treatment for the rashes promptly, and taking other preventative steps, you can effectively treat contact dermatitis and keep it from affecting your life.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
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
Top How Long Does Contact Dermatitis Last Related Articles
Allergic Contact Dermatitis PictureA red, itchy, weepy reaction where the skin has come into contact with a substance that the immune system recognizes as foreign. See a picture of Allergic Contact Dermatitis and learn more about the health topic.
Atopic DermatitisEczema is a general term for many types dermatitis (skin inflammation). Atopic dermatitis is the most common of the many types of eczema. Other types of eczema include: contact eczema, allergic contact eczema, seborrheic eczema, nummular eczema, stasis dermatitis, and dyshidrotic eczema.
Atopic Dermatitis vs PsoriasisPsoriasis and atopic dermatitis are common, long-term skin diseases. Both are noncontagious. Because both the rashes look somewhat similar, the diagnosis may be difficult at the first glance, and a biopsy of the skin remains the last resort. However, certain things that can help differentiate between the two before the doctor orders a biopsy.
Contact DermatitisContact dermatitis is a rash that occurs after exposure to an irritant. Symptoms of contact dermatitis include a red, elevated rash at the site of contact with the irritating substance. Contact dermatitis treatment may involve creams, application of cool water compresses, and applying topical steroids.
Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis) Quiz:Does dry, itchy, flaky, scaly, red, inflamed skin sound familiar to you? Take the Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis) Quiz to learn more about the causes, symptoms, and treatments of this common skin condition.
How Do You Get Rid of Contact Dermatitis Fast?For mild contact dermatitis, the following simple home remedies can help get rid of the rash fast.
How Do You Treat Perioral Dermatitis?Perioral dermatitis (POD) is a rash that involves the skin around the mouth. The rash of POD is bumpy and scaly in appearance. There may be itching and pain, along with the discharge of clear fluid from the rash.
RashThe word "rash" means an outbreak of red bumps on the body. The way people use this term, "a rash" can refer to many different skin conditions. The most common of these are scaly patches of skin and red, itchy bumps or patches all over the place.
Seborrheic DermatitisSeborrheic dermatitis is a chronic skin condition. Symptoms and signs include a red, scaling rash on the scalp, face, ears, and torso. Treatment often includes the use of a medicated shampoo and the application of a topical steroid lotion.
Skin BiopsyDuring a skin biopsy, a piece of skin is removed under a local anesthesia and examined using a microscope. The different types of skin biopsy include shave biopsy, punch biopsy, and excisional biopsy. Skin biopsies are performed to diagnose skin growths, skin conditions, and skin cancers.
Skin Problems and Treatments: Guide to Seborrheic DermatitisGet to know the symptoms and treatments of seborrheic dermatitis, a common skin condition that often affects the scalp but can happen in other areas, too.
What Kills Perioral Dermatitis?Here are 6 natural at-home remedies that can help get rid of perioral dermatitis.
What Triggers Seborrheic Dermatitis?Seborrheic dermatitis is an inflammatory skin disease characterized by flaky, red, or yellowish scales that resemble dandruff. Sometimes, the scales may itch or even crust and ooze.