Triggers of Contact Dermatitis and How To Treat It



In most cases, the rash and other reactions will disappear after exposure to the substance has ended.

The rash may take some time to heal and fully go away. For example, a rash from poison ivy often lingers because the oils from the plant have seeped into the skin. Once the oil is gone, the rash clears up.

It is best for a person to avoid contact with substances identified as causing contact dermatitis.

If contact is made, it is a good idea to clean the area with some mild soap and water to potentially prevent a rash from developing.

Most treatment options involve home remedies. They include:

  • applying anti-itch ointments to the infected skin
  • taking an oatmeal bath (or similar)
  • taking antihistamine drugs
  • avoiding scratching the infected area to help prevent infections

In extreme cases, a person may need to see a dermatologist, allergist, or other healthcare professional. They can prescribe ointment, creams, or prescription drugs to treat contact dermatitis.


In most cases, prevention is as simple as avoiding the substance or object that caused the contact dermatitis in the first place. For example, a person who develops a rash after coming into contact with poison ivy should try to avoid the plant.

However, a person may not know what caused the reaction. If the exact cause is unknown, a person may want to record things they come in contact with to help determine what might be causing the reaction.

Often, a person may not consider that a change in skincare products may be the source of the irritation.

An allergist may be able to identify the allergen or irritant from a list of substances the person came in contact with over the previous 24 to 48 hours.

In other cases, the allergist can use skin tests to help determine the cause of a reaction.