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Contact dermatitis

2-minute read

Inflammation of the skin is commonly termed 'eczema' or 'dermatitis'. Contact dermatitis occurs when your skin comes into contact with something that causes it to become red and inflamed (known as an inflammatory reaction).

There are two different types of contact dermatitis:

  • allergic contact dermatitis – this is caused by an allergen and it will continue to cause inflammation of your skin each time you come into contact with it. Common causes of allergic contact dermatitis are allergy to nickel, plants, chemicals, creams and ointments.
  • irritant contact dermatitis – this is when an irritant causes damage to your skin, resulting in inflammation. It can happen when you are exposed to irritants for long periods of time.

Both types of contact dermatitis can cause the skin to become:

  • cracked
  • red
  • blistered
  • thickened
  • dry

The symptoms of contact dermatitis can be effectively managed with treatment.

Your pharmacist may be able to recommend some products which can help with dry, sore or itchy skin.

Your doctor may suggest some creams and other treatments, or refer you to a specialist if it’s not clear what is causing the contact dermatitis, or the symptoms don’t respond to treatment.

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about your contact dermatitis, why not use healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Last reviewed: September 2017

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