Contact Dermatitis: Best Home Treatment Tips For 2023?
It’s that time again - you’ve just treated yourself to a brand new skincare product. Isn’t it an amazing feeling? The glimmer of hope that yes, this will be the one to finally put my skin back on track.
The reviews were amazing (making it totally worth the extra £5) and you can’t wait to get home and slap it on head to toe.
So that’s exactly what you do! Yet, 2 hours later, a red, itchy rash starts to appear on your left arm. And then your right. And then your neck.
Yup, you guessed it. It’s your old pal contact dermatitis, back to say a friendly hello!
We’re sure almost every eczema sufferer has felt this despair. The elation and hope given by a new skincare product, to then see your dreams dashed by the return of a familiar sight - some of the red rashy stuff.
So we want to say - we see you. And we’ll try our best to help.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- What is contact dermatitis?
- Different types
- Common symptoms
- Top home treatment tips
So, what is contact dermatitis?
Contact dermatitis is when your skin becomes itchy, red or inflamed after coming into contact with an allergen or irritant in your close environment.
It shares many of the same symptoms as all other forms of eczema, however contact dermatitis isn’t passed down genetically and isn’t linked to other conditions, such as asthma.
And despite what your friends might tell you, contact dermatitis isn’t contagious and can’t be spread to other people. So don’t hide yourself away from the world in fear!
There are 3 types of contact dermatitis you should be aware of.
1. Allergic contact dermatitis
This is when your skin suffers a delayed allergic reaction after being exposed to a foreign substance. This causes the body to produce inflammatory chemicals which leads to a red, inflamed and itchy rash appearing.
Essentially, your well-tuned immune system overreacts or is sensitized to an unknown chemical.
2. Irritant contact dermatitis
This is the more common type and accounts for around 80% of all contact dermatitis cases. In this instance, the immune system isn’t overreacting to an exposed allergen. Instead, the skin comes into direct contact with an irritating chemical such as detergent, bleach, or solvents that strip the skin of its natural oils and protective barrier.
Even water, when the skin is exposed to it on a regular enough basis, can cause a reaction. If you work in healthcare or hospitality, you might have already felt this pain - it’s termed ‘occupational’ contact dermatitis.
3. Photocontact dermatitis
This is when an allergic reaction occurs after a chemical is applied to the skin and then exposed to sunlight. Think moisturising lotion or sun cream.
With all 3 types of contact dermatitis the skin can react with a red, itchy rash immediately, or usually 1 to 2 days later.
This depends on the type you’re suffering from and how allergic you are to the substance you’ve been exposed to. The following are some of the main symptoms to watch out for:
Allergic contact dermatitis
- Intense itch
- Blisters (possibly oozing)
- Skin that’s red or burns
- Patches of leathery, darkened skin
Irritant contact dermatitis
- Skin that feels tight
- Severe dry skin that may lead to cracking
- Crusting that may result in open sores
As ever when it comes to eczema, triggers will vary greatly from person to person. So don’t take the following lists as exhaustive.
Instead, the following are more generic triggers you should be aware of that might be flaring symptoms.
- Nickel or gold jewellery
- Poison ivy
- Battery acid
Top home treatment tips
Right then, the part you’ve all been waiting for.
1. Stop the itch and avoid scratching
We’ve all been there, the itch-scratch downward spiral you just can’t escape from. It’s tough, both physically and emotionally.
But luckily, our very own calming spray is exactly what you’ve been missing! Enriched with a blend of 3 traditional Chinese herbs trusted for 1000’s of years in Asian medicine, our plant-based formula deeply hydrates whilst working to repair and enhance the skin barrier.
Anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic, it’s steroid, paraben and sulphate free :)
2. Avoid your triggers!
With contact dermatitis, this may be the most important point of all. If you can pin down what sets off your flare ups (maybe from a patch test), avoid it! Do this consistently, and it’s most likely your symptoms will clear by themselves.
Remember: when it comes to triggers, don’t rule anything out. Something you’ve been exposed to your whole life and been fine with, doesn’t mean tomorrow it might not suddenly spark a reaction (the body’s wonderful like that).
3. Wash with non-soap products and lukewarm water
If your skin is prone to react to allergens, I’d cross soap off your weekly shopping list straight away. Opt for a non-irritating replacement and keep the water in your morning shower tepid, not scolding hot.
If you suffer from eczema, it’s likely you have a damaged skin barrier and find it more difficult to keep irritants out and lock hydration in. Because of this, you have to prioritise slapping on a thick moisturiser at least twice a day. Make it habitual.
As with any type of eczema, contact dermatitis can be far more than just an annoyance. It can drastically alter your mood and approach to life.
Of course you’ll have moments where your skin erupts and becomes uncontrollable, just remember to stay patient, consistent and most of all, calm :)
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The yan-yee team
- Contact dermatitis. (n.d.). Link
- Statescu L, et al. (2011). Contact dermatitis - Epidemiological study. Link
- Johnston G.A, et al. (2017). British Association of Dermatologists’ guidelines for the management of contact dermatitis 2017. Link
- Contact dermatitis. (n.d.). Link