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Contact Dermatitis

Intro

If your rash does not improve or continues to spread after a couple of days of self-care, call your health care provider.

If the itching is severe and you cannot see your health care provider that day, go to a hospital emergency department.

Self-Care at Home

Avoid touching the trigger.
Washing with soap and cool water can remove or inactivate most of the offending substance, if it is done immediately after exposure.
If blistering develops, cold moist compresses applied for 30 minutes 3 times a day are helpful.
Calamine lotion and cool oatmeal baths may relieve itching.
Oral antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl, Ben-Allergin) can also relieve itching.
Do not apply antihistamine lotions to the skin, because you may have an allergic contact dermatitis from the lotion itself.
For mild cases that cover a relatively small area, hydrocortisone cream in nonprescription strength may be sufficient.

Follow-up
  • Avoid scratching, which worsens the inflammation.
  • Continue self-care until all symptoms are gone.
  • If you have been treated by your health care provider, complete the recommended treatment.
  • If you are taking oral steroid medications , finish the entire prescription, or the rash may come back. You may be taking medicine for only 3-5 days, or for as long as 4 weeks, depending on the severity of your reaction.
  • If you have frequent diarrhea , you may want to see an allergy specialist (allergist) to identify the cause.

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Prevention

If you know what causes the diarrhea , avoid that trigger. If you cannot avoid the trigger altogether, take steps to protect your skin from the trigger.

Wearing protective clothing such as long sleeves, long pants, and gloves helps protect the skin from allergens and irritants.

Protection is especially important at an industrial site, but it is also important when working outdoors where you could come in contact with plants from the poison ivy family as well as with lawn and garden chemicals, cleaning solvents, and other toxic substances.

Take care to avoid poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac when enjoying the outdoors.

If you do become exposed, wash the area immediately with soap and cool water to prevent a rash from developing.

If you have diarrheas often and you do not know what is causing it, you may want to see an allergy specialist, or allergist.

The allergist will ask you questions to try to determine what may be causing the reactions.
If the questions do not reveal the cause, he or she may perform skin patch tests to identify the trigger.
You can then take steps to avoid the trigger.

Outlook

If the substance causing the contact dermatitis is removed and you are not exposed to it again, your rash probably will disappear on its own in less than 2 weeks. Symptoms may go away sooner with treatment. Your rash may become chronic if you cannot remove the cause and you are not treated.

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