What is the initial treatment for contact dermatitis?


Quick Answer

The treatment of contact dermatitis is hydrocortisone cream when a small patch of skin is affected and oral steroids in severe outbreaks, explains Mayo Clinic. Itching is relieved with oral antihistamines, and blisters are treated at home with cold, moist compresses for 30 minutes three times per day, notes WebMD.

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Full Answer

Contact dermatitis is a rash that occurs from physical contact with an allergen, according to WebMD. Common allergens include poison ivy; poison oak; poison sumac; hair dyes; hair straighteners; nickel; other metals; leather; latex; citrus fruit; fragrances found in soaps, shampoos, lotions, perfumes and cosmetics; and medication.

Prevention is an important part of the treatment plan because creams and compresses relieve the symptoms of dermatitis but do not prevent future outbreaks, notes Mayo Clinic. In order to identify the cause of contact dermatitis, a doctor performs diagnostic tests that include a thorough medical history, a physical exam and an allergen patch test.

The allergen test involves the application of adhesive patches with common allergens to the skin, explains Mayo Clinic. The patches are left on the skin for two days, after which they are removed, and the skin is examined for localized irritation. In many cases, people react to more than one substance on the patches. It is important to avoid contact with the allergen after it is identified as well as with all products that contain the substance.

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