What is contact dermatitis?

Jump To

Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is inflammation of the skin caused by contact with a substance that causes an allergic reaction. Or it can occur from contact with a substance that irritates the skin. A minor case of contact dermatitis may cause mild redness of the skin or a rash of small red bumps, while a more severe reaction may cause swelling, redness, and larger blisters.

A rash usually starts about 48 hours after exposure to the irritating substance. Common causes of contact dermatitis include:

  • Poisonous plants, such as poison ivy, oak, or sumac.
  • Soaps, detergents, shampoos, perfumes, cosmetics, or lotions.
  • Jewelry or fabrics.
  • New tools, toys, appliances, or other objects.
  • Latex gloves.

The location of the rash may provide a clue about the cause.

Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis on an arm, with close-up of rash.

Contact dermatitis is a skin rash that results from contact with a substance that causes an allergic reaction. Or it can occur from contact with a substance that irritates the skin. A minor reaction may cause mild redness of the skin, itching, or a rash of small red bumps. A more severe reaction may cause pain, swelling, redness, and larger blisters.

Many things can cause contact dermatitis, including soaps, lotions, latex gloves, and plants such as poison ivy. The location of the rash may provide a clue about the cause.

©2011-2024 Healthwise, Incorporated

The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.