Contact Dermatitis

Vanguard Dermatology

Dermatologists located throughout New York, NY

Contact dermatitis affects 15-20% of all adults, causing its classic symptom: an itchy, red rash. The physicians at Vanguard Dermatology have years of experience determining the cause of each patient’s contact dermatitis and providing treatment to provide relief from their symptoms. To schedule an appointment, use online booking or call one of their seven offices in New York City, Brooklyn, Forest Hills, and Staten Island, New York.

Contact Dermatitis Q & A

What is Contact Dermatitis?

Contact dermatitis is a condition that occurs when a substance comes into direct contact with your skin. There are two types of contact dermatitis, which are caused by differing substances:

  1. Allergic Contact Dermatitis: When you’re allergic to the substance touching your skin, that substance triggers an immune response that causes the skin reaction.
  2. Irritant Contact Dermatitis: Any number of substances can irritate your skin and cause an inflammatory reaction. It’s estimated that 80% of all cases of contact dermatitis are due to irritants.


What Substances Cause Contact Dermatitis?

A few of the most common sources of allergic contact dermatitis include:

  • Poison ivy
  • Nickel
  • Latex
  • Topical antibiotics
  • Personal care products


What Symptoms Will I Develop Due to Contact Dermatitis?

Allergic and irritant contact dermatitis cause symptoms such as:

  • Itchy rash
  • Redness and swelling
  • Painful skin
  • Blisters that may ooze fluid
  • Dry, scaly skin


An acute reaction to an allergen like poison ivy usually causes red, swollen skin with small, fluid-filled bumps. By comparison, long-term exposure to an irritant typically causes an eczema-like rash with thick, scaly, dry skin.

How is Contact Dermatitis Diagnosed and Treated?

After thoroughly evaluating your medical history, learning which substances you came into contact with, and examining your skin, your doctor may decide to perform a skin patch test for allergens.

A skin patch contains a small amount of several suspected allergens. The patch is placed on your back, where it stays in place until your doctor at Vanguard Dermatology checks to see if you had a skin reaction to any of the substances.

For both irritant and allergic contact dermatitis, you’ll also develop a plan to avoid the problematic substance. Your doctor may prescribe medications to relieve symptoms or, if an allergy is diagnosed and your symptoms are severe, you may consider immunotherapy (allergy shots).

To get relief from itchy of painful contact dermatitis, call Vanguard Dermatology or book an appointment online.

When it comes to irritant contact dermatitis, the list of potential causes includes:

  • Solvents
  • Shampoo
  • Bleach and detergents
  • Hair dyes and permanent solutions
  • Airborne sawdust
  • Fertilizers and pesticides


You may experience an immediate skin reaction the first time you come into contact with the substance, or your skin’s response may build up gradually over multiple exposures.