Allergic Contact Dermatitis

Allergic contact dermatitis can be a frustrating condition, but consultation with a board-certified dermatologist like Dr. Liz Damstetter can help identify triggers that are keeping your skin inflamed. Allergic contact dermatitis causes an itchy and red rash as a result of contact with an irritant such as household products, cosmetics, metals, or plants like poison ivy. Through proper care with a dermatologist, you can manage symptoms and prevent future reactions.

What is Allergic Contact Dermatitis?

Allergic contact dermatitis is a type of eczema caused by an allergic reaction. It is caused by direct contact with an allergen, such as a type of metal, household product, or cosmetic, resulting in irritation. Some may refer to allergic contact dermatitis simply as a “contact allergy.” The condition is most common among those in careers that put them in closer contact with common allergens, such as healthcare workers, hairdressers, or custodians.


“Dr. Liz is truly the best dermatologist I’ve ever been to. She is attentive, kind, and genuinely cares about her patients and their overall skin health. I can not recommend her enough!!!”

“Wonderful experience here! The doctor took the time to educate me on a variety of cosmetic options and gave her candid opinion resulting in just the right amount of cosmetic adjustments! Her staff was delightful and attentive! I would highly recommend for general derm needs and cosmetic adjustments.”

“Dr. Damstetter was the first dermatologist I trusted to do my Botox. She is both knowledgeable and professional and did a fantastic job. I will be using her for any and all of my future needs.”

What Causes Allergic Contact Dermatitis?

Allergic contact dermatitis is caused by exposure to an allergen that activates the immune system within the skin. Some common allergens include:

  • Fragrances or perfumes
  • Metal, especially nickel
  • Adhesives
  • Cosmetic or personal care products including makeup, skin care, soaps, nail polish, or hair dyes and laundry detergents
  • Topical medications such as antibiotics
  • Plants such as poison ivy

Patients who have asthma, hay fever, or atopic dermatitis are more likely to experience allergic contact dermatitis. It is possible to develop an allergy at any point in your life, even if you have tolerated contact with a material in the past.

Liz Damstetter, MD

Board-Certified Dermatologist

Meet the Doctor

Allergic Contact Dermatitis Symptoms

Typically, allergic contact dermatitis will cause a red rash where the skin was in contact with the irritant or allergen. This rash may also be painful, itchy, or swollen. Hives and blisters can also occur as well as peeling or bleeding.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis Treatment

The primary concern in treating allergic contact dermatitis is to avoid contact with the offending allergen. Avoiding contact for two to four weeks should generally allow the skin to heal. During this period, Dr. Damstetter can also prescribe topical treatments including steroids and anti-inflammatories, and occasionally oral medications for severe symptoms. Appropriate skincare products are essential to healing from allergic contact dermatitis.

If you are unsure of what has caused your allergic contact dermatitis, a patch allergy test may be required. This involves applying possible allergens to the skin in a controlled manner to check for any reactions. Patch allergy testing may require coordinated care with an allergist. During your appointment, Dr. Damstetter can help you determine the appropriate care plan.

At-Home Care for Allergic Contact Dermatitis

Some allergic contact dermatitis symptoms can be managed at home. If you notice a rash, apply a cold compress to the area to reduce inflammation. Keep the area hydrated with a mild, fragrance-free moisturizer, or apply a barrier cream to protect irritated skin. During your appointment, Dr. Damstetter can advise you on at-home care to avoid or manage allergic contact dermatitis.

Schedule an Appointment

To learn more about treating allergic contact dermatitis, schedule an appointment with Dr. Damstetter. Call Reserve Dermatology in Glenview, IL or contact us online to schedule your first appointment.

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