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Signs and Symptoms of Contact Dermatitis

Could you be suffering from contact dermatitis? If you’re experiencing a skin rash and aren’t sure if it’s contact dermatitis or something else, pay attention to see if you have any of the symptoms listed here.


Red Skin Rash

This is one of the most prominent signs of contact dermatitis, but it doesn’t always mean you have this type of skin rash. Plenty of different types of skin rashes, including eczema and rosacea, cause redness in the skin. But with contact dermatitis, this red rash can occur within minutes of being exposed to an irritant. You may experience patchy redness or consistent redness across the area that was exposed to the irritant. But if you just hopped out of the shower and your neck is a little red, it’s probably not contact dermatitis. You should be on the lookout for redness that lasts for more than just a few minutes.


Along with a red skin rash, itchiness can be a symptom of contact dermatitis. This symptom can range from quite mild to severe. In the event that you’re experiencing a red skin rash and severe itching, it’s in your best interest to see a doctor or dermatologist as soon as possible. If the itching becomes so severe you can’t focus on anything else or it becomes painful, it’s definitely time to seek medical attention. In mild cases, a hydrocortisone cream can help mitigate symptoms of itching in the affected area.

Dry or Cracked Skin

This is where distinguishing between contact dermatitis and skin conditions like eczema can get tricky. Eczema, especially during a flare up or when the weather is particularly dry, can result in dry, cracked skin. This most commonly occurs on the hands, arms, elbows, and knees, but it’s not limited to those areas. The key is determining if you were exposed to a substance or fabric that irritates your skin. If your dry, cracked skin is accompanied by redness and you haven’t previously been diagnosed with any other skin conditions, it’s likely contact dermatitis.

Swelling and Tenderness

You should be on the lookout for swelling and tenderness if you think you have contact dermatitis. This can be especially noticeable and irritating if it occurs near the eyes. For example, if you try a new skin product on your face and wake up the next morning with puffy eyes, contact dermatitis is the most logical conclusion to make. Swelling as a result of contact dermatitis can happen anywhere on the body, though. The important thing is to pinpoint any kind of substance you had contact with that could have irritated your skin in any way. Once you can do that, you can determine whether your skin rash is contact dermatitis or not.

It can be tough to distinguish whether or not your skin rash is contact dermatitis. But if you’ve experienced any of the symptoms listed above, it could be time to see a dermatologist. Make an appointment at North Pacific Dermatology today and let us help you find the right contact dermatitis treatment.

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