Contact dermatitis is a kind of skin inflammation that occurs when substances touching your skin cause irritation or an allergic reaction. The resulting red, itchy rash isn't contagious or life-threatening, but it can be very uncomfortable.

Culprits in everyday life include soaps, cosmetics, fragrances, jewelry, or plants such as poison ivy or poison oak. Some occupations involve exposure to substances that may cause contact dermatitis.

Successful contact dermatitis treatment consists primarily of identifying what's causing your reaction. If you can avoid that offending agent, the rash usually resolves in two to four weeks. Self-care measures, such as wet compresses and anti-itch creams, can help soothe your skin and reduce inflammation.

Jul. 30, 2011