Contact dermatitis is a rash that will not go away on its own. It is usually extremely itchy and may appear with any number of the following characteristics:
- Pink to red color
- Blistered skin
- Crusted skin
- Dry and scaly skin
- Thickened skin
Many substances, irritants and/or allergens can cause the skin to react. These substances can be common, including water, detergents, solvents or products used as personal care items such as shampoos and makeup. Irritation may also be caused by chemicals or metals in your workplace, and environmental products and foods you are exposed to frequently. To make the condition go away, you must identify the substance(s) causing your reaction and eliminate contact with them.
A contact dermatitis rash does not usually appear immediately after you are exposed. It may take many hours or even days for the rash to show. A rash may also appear in places that are not in direct contact with the irritant or allergen.
It is possible to develop sensitivity to something you have used for many years. A new sensitivity can also develop from use of a product—a fragrance, soap or other common household item—because the manufacturer has changed ingredients. Careful testing and a review of your health history can help identify the cause of your condition.
Contact dermatitis is not contagious. You cannot give your rash to someone else and you cannot get a contact dermatitis rash from another person. Contact dermatitis may be complicated and requires working carefully with your doctor to determine the cause and how to prevent it, which usually demands strict avoidance of the irritant.