According to Mayo Clinic, the first step to treating contact dermatitis is to identify the irritant. By avoiding the instigating agent, most cases resolve themselves within two to four weeks. WebMD advises washing the affected area in cool water and using a mild soap immediately upon discovery. Hydrocortisone creams or oral antihistamines help with itching, but topical antihistamines might exacerbate symptoms; only use the latter at a doctor's behest.
Mayo Clinic describes contact dermatitis as a rash, blisters, dry or cracked skin or swelling that can be red, itching, burning or tender. Further symptoms in severe cases include skin that leaks a clear fluid that crusts in the air. The severity of the case depends on the type of irritant and the length of contact or exposure.
WebMD warns that symptoms usually do not appear the first time the skin is contacted. In addition, symptoms can take up to two days to appear as in the case of allergies.
Mayo Clinic advises immediately seeking medical attention if there are signs of pus or fever that indicate infection or signs of damage, such as pain and inflammation, to eyes, lungs, the mucus lining of the mouth, digestive tract or nasal passages. Further, seek medical help if the affected area includes the genitals or face.