Contact Dermatitis Caused By Allergies: How Can You Treat It And How Can You Find Out What’s Causing It?

If your skin frequently breaks out in itchy, burning rashes that last for weeks at a time, you may be experiencing chronic contact dermatitis. Contact dermatitis is often caused by a skin irritant, like the harsh chemicals found in some cleaning products. However, it can be caused by an allergic reaction in your skin as well, and it can be tough to figure out what's causing this reaction — allergic contact dermatitis often doesn't appear until days after your skin has been exposed to what triggered the rash. To learn more about allergic contact dermatitis and how you can treat it, read on.

What Is Allergic Contact Dermatitis?

Allergic contact dermatitis occurs when antibodies in your immune system react to an allergen that has come in contact with your skin. Your skin becomes inflamed due to the reaction, which results in blotchy red rashes appearing on your skin. The inflammation can also cause your skin to dry out or blister.

Hives can appear similar to allergic contact dermatitis, but hives typically occur very soon after you've touched an allergen. A rash due to allergic contact dermatitis may not appear for days after your skin has come in contact with something you're allergic to. Hives also disappear rapidly, while the rashes from allergic contact dermatitis often last for weeks.

How Do You Treat Allergic Contact Dermatitis?

Steroid creams can help allergic contact dermatitis go away more quickly, and they can also help reduce the burning and itching that you experience. Steroids weaken your immune system, reducing its ability to react to the allergen and cause inflammation. You find steroid cream over-the-counter at a pharmacy, and your doctor can prescribe you a stronger version if an over-the-counter version isn't effective enough at providing symptom relief.

The best way to treat allergic contact dermatitis, however, is to prevent it from happening in the first place. You'll need to limit contact with anything that you're allergic to. Unfortunately, it's often difficult to find out what's causing allergic contact dermatitis. Since rashes usually don't appear until a few days after exposure, it can be hard to tell what allergen caused your contact dermatitis.

How Can You Find Out What You're Allergic To?

One way that you can make it easier to find out what's causing your allergic contact dermatitis is to schedule an appointment with an allergen testing service. Allergen testing services can perform a patch test in order to determine what's causing your allergic reaction. During a patch test, patches containing common allergens, like metals, fabrics, and chemicals often found in cosmetic products, will be placed onto your back.

You'll wear the patches for a few days in order to give your skin enough time to mount an immune response against the potential allergens, and then the allergen testing service will remove them. By comparing the content of the patches against which ones caused an allergic reaction on your back, you'll often be able to determine what's causing your rashes.

If you suffer from frequent outbreaks of contact dermatitis and you don't know what's triggering it, schedule an appointment at an allergen testing service in your area. By performing a patch test, you'll be able to eliminate the source of your skin's allergic reactions — this may require avoiding certain fabrics, switching to fragrance-free cosmetic products, or removing jewelry, depending on what allergen testing has revealed is causing your breakouts.