Contact Dermatitis (Allergic and Irritant)

Contact dermatitis is one type of an allergic skin condition. Dermatitis means “inflammation of the skin.” Dermatitis has many causes. Irritants and allergies cause contact dermatitis.

Irritant contact dermatitis is a skin reaction from irritation to something touching your skin, including:

  • Chemicals
  • Soaps
  • Wet diapers
  • Other substances

Allergic contact dermatitis is a skin reaction due to an allergy to something touching your skin. Examples of allergic dermatitis include reactions to poison ivy, antibiotics, nickel and other substances. This is an allergic condition that involves the immune system. But it does not involve the IgE antibody. The IgE antibody is responsible for classic allergic reactions.

Contact dermatitis can develop right away or it can occur after months of exposure to a substance. Itching and rash are common symptoms of contact dermatitis.

To diagnose contact dermatitis, your doctor will do a physical exam. They will ask you questions about your symptoms. Your doctor may do allergy testing.


Medical Review October 2015.