What is contact dermatitis?

What is contact dermatitis?

Lana Lindstrom

What is contact dermatitis?

Contact dermatitis is a type of eczema that causes burning, redness, inflammation and itchiness when your body comes in contact with a material it is sensitive to. It is a common type of eczema, there are approximately 3 million cases per year and it can affect all ages. If treated properly, contact dermatitis can be resolved in less than one week.

Eczema on Hands


There are several types of contact dermatitis, but the two most common are irritant and allergic contact dermatitis.

  • Irritant contact dermatitis is the most common type of contact dermatitis. The skin reaction will develop immediately or within 24 hours of contact with the irritant. The rash is caused by a substance damaging the outer layer of your skin.
  • Allergic contact dermatitis is an immune system reaction to an allergen the skin comes in contact with. It occurs over time and may take 48-72 hours for a skin rash to develop. The more often you come in contact with the allergen the quicker the reaction will come.
      Causes and Treatment
      • Metals: Nickel is a very common allergy for adults, and a top cause for contact dermatitis. It can be found in jewelry, kitchen appliances, coins, batteries, cell phones and even clothing. Look for jewelry to be “Nickel-Free” or jewelry with sterling silver, gold, or platinum are less likely to cause flares. Look for clothing that is metal free including zinc clothing.
      • Fragrances: Fragrances are most likely to cause contact dermatitis, according to Dermatology Times. The synthetic chemical compounds in fragrances strongly irritates contact dermatitis. The most effective treatment is to stop fragrance use all together. If this is not feasible, an air purifier will help to take strong fragrances out of your environment.
      • Latex: Latex is most commonly used in gloves for industrial or medical work. If your profession requires you to wear gloves, consider an alternative materials such as nitrile gloves. Nitrile gloves are medical grade and use a synthetic rubber. If a breakout on hands occur, treat them using eczema treatment gloves. Use these gloves overnight after washing and moisturizing with this recommended emollient. These gloves can effectively treat the contact dermatitis associated with latex.
      • Moisturizers: Moisturizers may be the cause of contact dermatitis because of an ingredient inside the moisturizer. Look for products that are dermatologist recommended, contain no added chemicals, and are fragrance free. This moisturizer here is highly recommended.
      • Weather: Contact dermatitis can also be caused by dramatic changes in weather. Changing from a very cold environment to a hot environment can cause irritation. Humidity can also cause a flare. Wear fabrics that are soft and breathable. Tencel® is a revolutionary fabric for eczema sufferers, it is breathable while keeping moisturizers and emollients in place. It also can be worn underneath other clothes to prevent itching and irritation. Tencel clothing and wraps can be found here.

      eczema relief

      Please remember information on our blog is not designed or meant to replace a physician’s advice. Always consult your doctor about your medical conditions. AD RescueWear does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.