Allergic Contact Dermatitis

SkinCare in Wellesley, MA

After your skin has been exposed to an allergen, an itchy, red rash is likely to occur. This condition is known as allergic contact dermatitis. Allergens can be found in many everyday products, so determining the exact cause for allergic contact dermatitis can be frustrating. Persistent symptoms can also be difficult to treat without advice from a qualified, caring, expert dermatologist such as Dr. Rashel Goodkin.

What is Allergic Contact Dermatitis?

Allergic contact dermatitis is a red or irritated reaction in the skin to a foreign substance, such as cosmetics, detergents, jewelry, or fragrances. Contact dermatitis is not contagious and is not life-threatening in most situations, but it can be quite uncomfortable and rare instances can become dangerous. Common allergens that cause contact dermatitis include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Metals, particularly nickel
  • Poison ivy or poison oak
  • Preservatives in cosmetics, such as formaldehyde or sulfites
  • Ink and dyes, including tattoo ink or henna
  • Latex or other rubber products
  • Sunscreen ingredients

Household cleaning products, skincare products, cosmetics, soaps, and shampoos can all contain ingredients that may cause contact dermatitis.

Symptoms of Allergic Contact Dermatitis

Allergic contact dermatitis can occur anywhere the skin is exposed to an irritant. Symptoms include blistering, dryness or scaliness, hives, redness, itching or burning sensation, and sensitivity to the sun. For some patients, symptoms may emerge 12 to 72 hours after exposure to the allergen.

Treatment for Allergic Contact Dermatitis

First, Dr. Goodkin will help determine what is causing your allergic contact dermatitis. This may require allergy testing, which can help you avoid ingredients or substances you are allergic to in the future. Mild reactions can be treated using antihistamine medications to control the allergy response as well as prescription topical corticosteroids. Dr. Goodkin may also recommend a soothing lotion or cream among other at-home treatments that can reduce discomfort.

More severe allergic contact dermatitis may be treated using prednisone, an oral steroid used to treat inflammation, or special dressings. This may be important for reactions that result in facial swelling. If allergic contact dermatitis has lead to an infection, Dr. Goodkin may also prescribe antibiotics.

Dr. Goodkin will also advise how to best avoid future allergic contact dermatitis by carefully choosing products that will not result in a reaction. She may also recommend and perform allergy testing (patch testing). After allergy testing, you can determine which ingredients you should avoid in household products, skin care products, and cosmetics.

When to See a Dermatologist for Allergic Content Dermatitis

Allergic contact dermatitis can subside within a few days after the allergen is removed. However, you should schedule an appointment with a trusted dermatologist such as Dr. Goodkin if you are uncomfortable or distracted from your daily activities, have a rash on your face, do not experience relief within several weeks, or feel pain. 

Schedule an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Goodkin, call 781.227.7977. You may also request your appointment through our online form.