Allergic contact dermatitis to earrings is common in women.
Allergic contact dermatitis to earrings is common in women.
Contact dermatitis often has slightly elevated lesions with distinct borders.
Contact dermatitis often has slightly elevated lesions with distinct borders.

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The scrotum and penis are frequent sites of contact dermatitis.
The scrotum and penis are frequent sites of contact dermatitis.
This image displays an allergy to the nickel found in the watch case. The result is a scaly, itchy, persistent skin rash where the watch touches the skin.
This image displays an allergy to the nickel found in the watch case. The result is a scaly, itchy, persistent skin rash where the watch touches the skin.
This image displays a pink, itchy, scaly lesion due to an allergy to fragrance in a skin care product.
This image displays a pink, itchy, scaly lesion due to an allergy to fragrance in a skin care product.
This image displays contact dermatitis, also called
This image displays contact dermatitis, also called "fiddler's neck," from an allergy to the violin touching the skin.

Graphic content

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This image displays a violet-colored, linear, slightly elevated lesion typical of contact dermatitis, due to an allergy to the rubber in the elastic waistband of the patient's underwear.
This image displays a violet-colored, linear, slightly elevated lesion typical of contact dermatitis, due to an allergy to the rubber in the elastic waistband of the patient's underwear.
This image displays allergic contact dermatitis on a teenager's hand.
This image displays allergic contact dermatitis on a teenager's hand.
Nail polish allergy is often first seen at the eyelid.
Nail polish allergy is often first seen at the eyelid.
Allergic contact dermatitis often involves the thumb, which can have painful cracks and splits.
Allergic contact dermatitis often involves the thumb, which can have painful cracks and splits.
This image displays allergic contact dermatitis from fragrance found in a deodorant.
This image displays allergic contact dermatitis from fragrance found in a deodorant.
This teenager was using a hair care product that caused an allergic contact dermatitis.
This teenager was using a hair care product that caused an allergic contact dermatitis.
This is an 11 year old with allergic contact dermatitis secondary to nickel in the button.
This is an 11 year old with allergic contact dermatitis secondary to nickel in the button.
Allergic contact dermatitis often causes redness of the skin and itch.
Allergic contact dermatitis often causes redness of the skin and itch.
This image displays contact dermatitis on the scalp and adjacent to the scalp area in a young man who was using a hair straightener.
This image displays contact dermatitis on the scalp and adjacent to the scalp area in a young man who was using a hair straightener.
An allergy to a bathing suit frabic caused this rash.
An allergy to a bathing suit frabic caused this rash.
This image displays allergic contact dermatitis on the top of the feet.
This image displays allergic contact dermatitis on the top of the feet.
This image displays redness around the mouth caused by an allergic reaction to mangoes.
This image displays redness around the mouth caused by an allergic reaction to mangoes.
The sharp border of the redness on the foot is due to contact dermatitis from an allergy to a substance in contact with the skin.
The sharp border of the redness on the foot is due to contact dermatitis from an allergy to a substance in contact with the skin.
The red areas on the nose and cheeks were caused by an allergic contact dermatitis to an eyeglass frame.
The red areas on the nose and cheeks were caused by an allergic contact dermatitis to an eyeglass frame.
The location of this rash underneath the snap on a pair of denim jeans is a clue that it is caused by nickel/metal allergy.
The location of this rash underneath the snap on a pair of denim jeans is a clue that it is caused by nickel/metal allergy.

Images of Allergic Contact Dermatitis (21)

Allergic contact dermatitis to earrings is common in women.
Contact dermatitis often has slightly elevated lesions with distinct borders.

Graphic content

The scrotum and penis are frequent sites of contact dermatitis.
This image displays an allergy to the nickel found in the watch case. The result is a scaly, itchy, persistent skin rash where the watch touches the skin.
This image displays a pink, itchy, scaly lesion due to an allergy to fragrance in a skin care product.
This image displays contact dermatitis, also called

Graphic content

This image displays a violet-colored, linear, slightly elevated lesion typical of contact dermatitis, due to an allergy to the rubber in the elastic waistband of the patient's underwear.
This image displays allergic contact dermatitis on a teenager's hand.
Nail polish allergy is often first seen at the eyelid.
Allergic contact dermatitis often involves the thumb, which can have painful cracks and splits.
This image displays allergic contact dermatitis from fragrance found in a deodorant.
This teenager was using a hair care product that caused an allergic contact dermatitis.
This is an 11 year old with allergic contact dermatitis secondary to nickel in the button.
Allergic contact dermatitis often causes redness of the skin and itch.
This image displays contact dermatitis on the scalp and adjacent to the scalp area in a young man who was using a hair straightener.
An allergy to a bathing suit frabic caused this rash.
This image displays allergic contact dermatitis on the top of the feet.
This image displays redness around the mouth caused by an allergic reaction to mangoes.
The sharp border of the redness on the foot is due to contact dermatitis from an allergy to a substance in contact with the skin.
The red areas on the nose and cheeks were caused by an allergic contact dermatitis to an eyeglass frame.
The location of this rash underneath the snap on a pair of denim jeans is a clue that it is caused by nickel/metal allergy.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis

Allergic contact dermatitis is the medical term for a very common rash that occurs when the skin is exposed to any number of irritants (ie, substances or surfaces that bother it) and becomes inflamed. In allergic contact dermatitis, the rash usually appears 48–72 hours after the exposure is made, which can make the diagnosis difficult as the irritant culprit is not always obvious. The skin tends to become red, raised, itchy, and dry looking. Some very common irritants (though there are many more than on this list) include nickel (a metal found in earrings, other jewelry, and the metal closures on clothing), chemicals used to tan the leather used in shoes and sandals, latex (including gloves and condoms), antibiotic ointments, soaps, cosmetics, and dyes. Someone can be in contact with one of these things for years and suddenly develop an allergic contact dermatitis. The best treatment is to identify the offending agent and avoid it; your doctor can also prescribe a steroid-based cream to help the rash go away more quickly.

Who's At Risk?

Anyone of any age can develop an allergic contact dermatitis. People with sensitive skin and people with other allergies are probably more likely to be troubled by this kind of rash.

Signs & Symptoms

Allergic contact dermatitis may occur on any location of the body.

  • Scaly red to pink areas of elevation (papules and plaques) and blisters (vesicles) may be seen. Individual lesions have distinct borders and often have a geometric shape with straight edges and right angles.
  • Eyelid swelling is frequently seen when the allergen is unknowingly transferred from finger to lid. Affected areas are typically severely itchy.
  • When the allergic contact dermatitis is long-standing, the areas of elevation become thick and secondary bacterial infection is possible.

Take a picture of your skin condition with Aysa

Symptom checkers like Aysa can help narrow down possible skin conditions by analyzing a skin photo.

Self-Care Guidelines

  • Avoid the offending agent.
  • It may be helpful to avoid common triggers such as fragrance, lanolin, nickel, etc.
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Treatments

Treatment is aimed at preventing contact with the allergen.

  • Symptomatic control of itching may include oral antihistamines.
  • Medium- and high-potency topical steroids may be prescribed for rashes occurring on the extremities or trunk.
  • Mild-potency topical steroids may be prescribed for thinner skin on the face and skin fold areas.
  • In severe cases involving large body areas, a 14-day course of an oral steroid (prednisone) may be prescribed.

Visit Urgency

Seek medical evaluation for a persistent or recurrent rash of unknown origin. Your physician may perform allergic contact patch testing. Skin biopsy is sometimes used to confirm the diagnosis.

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References

Bolognia, Jean L., ed. Dermatology, pp.227, 252-256. New York: Mosby, 2003.

Freedberg, Irwin M., ed. Fitzpatrick’s Dermatology in General Medicine. 6th ed, pp.266, 1164-1165. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003.