Contact dermatitis, also known as a form of eczema, is a skin condition that causes redness, swelling, and itching of the affected areas. Contact dermatitis develops when the skin comes into contact with foreign substances. These substances can be something a person is allergic to or has a sensitivity to and may include soaps, shampoos, or cleaning solutions. Treatment options may involve avoiding known triggers and the use of medicated ointments or herbal treatments. Contact dermatitis treatments are primarily aimed at treating individual symptoms, and the affected person will often have to try a few different treatment methods in order to find what works best.
The most effective contact dermatitis treatments center on avoiding contact with substances that trigger a reaction. Some chemicals may not cause any problems for years, and then the patient will suddenly begin to react to them. Some of the most common triggers include perfumes, soaps, and metals such as nickel. If a person does come into contact with a known trigger, the area of skin should be gently but thoroughly washed right away. This kind of quick action may prevent a full-blown skin reaction in some cases. If known irritants cannot be avoided, gloves or protective clothing should be worn.
Over-the-counter contact dermatitis treatments often include topical creams and oral medications designed to ease uncomfortable symptoms. Hydrocortisone creams may be applied directly to the affected area to help reduce itching and soothe the skin. Antihistamines taken by mouth may also help relieve itching, but it should be noted that this type of medication will often make a person sleepy. If over-the-counter contact dermatitis treatments do not provide sufficient symptom relief, a doctor will sometimes prescribe stronger dosages of these medications. In some cases, repeated use of these contact dermatitis treatments can actually cause flare-ups, so they should be used with caution.
Some patients prefer more natural contact dermatitis treatments, and many are available either online or at many health food stores. Creams made from chamomile or licorice are believed to be as effective as hydrocortisone creams. Vitamin E oil helps to soothe the skin while providing the necessary moisture to the skin as it heals. Coconut oil is very moisturizing and promotes skin health while helping to soothe the itch that accompanies contact dermatitis. Witch hazel can be purchased over the counter at most drug stores, and many people report symptom relief by using a cotton ball to apply witch hazel directly to the affected area several times per day.