Signs and symptoms of contact dermatitis include:
- Red rash or bumps
- Itching, which may be severe
- Dry, cracked, red patches, which may resemble a burn
- Blisters, draining fluid and crusting in severe reactions
- Skin rash limited to an exposed area — for example, directly under a watchband
- Pain or tenderness
Contact dermatitis usually occurs in areas of your body that have been directly exposed to an offending substance — for example, under a watchband that triggers an allergy. But some reactions don't correlate exactly with areas of direct contact. For example, you may apply a lotion over your whole face, but only some areas may react. And if you've developed a skin sensitivity to something that later enters your whole body through medicine, foods and flavorings, or medical or dental procedures, you may have another reaction that occurs in the same areas as your original exposure or affects larger areas of your body.
When to see a doctor
See your doctor if:
Jul. 30, 2011
- You're so uncomfortable that you're losing sleep or are distracted from your daily routines
- Your skin is painful
- You're embarrassed by the way your skin looks
- You suspect your skin is infected
- You've tried self-care steps without success
- You suspect that your dermatitis is job-related
- Weston WL, et al. Overview of dermatitis. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed April 26, 2011.
- Seyfarth F, et al. Teaching interventions in contact dermatitis. Dermatitis. 2011;22:8.
- Habif TP. Contact dermatitis and patch testing. In: Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 5th ed. Edinburgh, U.K.; New York, N.Y.: Mosby Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-7234-3541-9..X0001-6--TOP&isbn=978-0-7234-3541-9&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed April 6, 2011.
- Zug KA, et al. Patch-test results of the North American Contact Dermatitis Group 2005-2006. Dermatitis. 2009;20:149.
- Usatine RP, et al. Diagnosis and management of contact dermatitis. American Family Physician. 2010;82:249.
- McCoy K. Lichen simplex chronicus. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/sec10/ch114/ch114f.html. Accessed April 29, 2011.
- Kerr A, et al. Photoallergic contact dermatitis. Photodermatology, Photoimmunology and Photomedicine. 2010;26:56.