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Contact Dermatitis: Treatment, Cost and Side Effects

Last Updated: Sep 25, 2023

What is the Contact Dermatitis?

Contact Dermatitis Treatment is required when the patient is suffering from a red itchy rash caused by a direct contact with a substance the patient is allergic to. There are two types of contact dermatitis. Irritant contact dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis where the former affects only the outer protective skin while the latter occurs when your skin comes in contact with an allergen and is followed by an immune reaction on your skin. The rash is neither contagious nor life threatening, but still causes a lot of discomfort to the sufferer. This allergic reaction is usually caused by any substance which irritates your skin.

The affected area can get infected if you repeatedly scratch it which can make it wet and cause oozing. Children often develop the condition from exposure to sunscreens, baby wipes, clothing with snaps and dyes etc. Individuals suffering from contact dermatitis should immediately seek medical help when the rash becomes extremely uncomfortable and makes you lose sleep, distracts you from your daily activities, when the infection affects your genitals, becomes painful and starts spreading and also when it does not go away within three weeks. Cool and wet compressions can be used to soothe the affected area.

How is the Contact Dermatitis treatment done?

In most cases, the contact dermatitis can go away on its own when the allergy causing substance is no longer in contact with the person. However, if the condition lasts longer than that, you should consult a doctor. Your doctor may identify the cause of the condition and examine your skin to identify the intensity of your rash. A patch test may also be recommended to detect if you are allergic to something or not. In the mean time, you should avoid scratching the affected area as it can make the irritation worse and cause other skin infections which may require a treatment of antibiotics. Cleaning your skin with mild soap and lukewarm water can also help. Along with that, you should stop using any product which can cause the problem. Applying petroleum jelly has also been helpful in a lot of cases. Anti itching treatments can also prove to be helpful.

Evaporated measures like using cool water compression followed by drying can also be tried. If the oozing and weeping has stopped you should apply potent steroids on the affected area at least twice a day for two to three weeks, consistently. Oral steroids may also be needed if the area is severely infected. In case of urgent need, you can also take antihistamine drugs in order to reduce the itching sensation and reduce the allergic reaction.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

Individuals who show symptoms like a red rash, itching which is severe, swelling or burning and tenderness in a specific area on the skin, dry and cracked skin with bumps and blisters which sometimes causes oozing should get themselves tested for the treatment required.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Individuals who show no potential sign and symptom of the condition should not get treated for the infection.


Are there any side effects?

Using oral corticosteroids for a longer period of time can cause problems of having fragile bones, thinning of the skin, diabetes, weight gain, easy bruising among other problems. Long term usage of any topical steroid on the skin also has some side effects like skin disorders, easy bruising and discoloration and stretch marks as well.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

Patients need to be careful of not coming in contact with the substance which caused the allergic reaction in the first place. Taking the medication for a prescribed period of time is advised for the patients to recover faster.

How long does it take to recover?

The condition usually goes away within a period for two to three weeks on its own. With medication and proper treatment it takes even lesser amount of time for the patient to recover.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

Steroid creams can cost within the range of Rs 500, depending on the brand and quantity of the product.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

Once treated properly, the results are permanent. However, the patient needs to avoid coming in contact with the substance with caused the condition in the first place.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

Instead of using the steroid cream one can try using cool water compression and let the area dry out as an alternative. Simple precautionary steps of avoiding scratching, protecting your hand and avoiding the irritant or allergen should be kept in mind.


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Written ByDr. Shaurya Rohatgi MD - Dermatology , Venereology & Leprosy,MBBSDermatology
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