There are many types of chemicals and substances that can cause contact dermatitis.

Irritant contact dermatitis is caused by contact with acids, alkaline materials, and other chemicals found in fragrances, preservatives, and household items like soaps, detergents, and solvents. It can also be caused by other harsh chemicals.

Allergy contact dermatitis can be triggered by one of more than 3,700 identified allergens. However, fewer than 40 of these allergens cause the majority of cases of contact dermatitis.

Poison ivy, oak, and sumac are the best-known plants that cause allergic reactions. Other allergens often associated with contact dermatitis are:

  • Adhesives
  • Cleansers
  • Contact lens solution
  • Cosmetics
  • Detergents
  • Dyes (for clothes, leather, cosmetics, or hair)
  • Fiberglass
  • First-aid ointments or creams containing neomycin or bacitracin
  • Formaldehyde
  • Fragrances
  • Gasoline
  • Leather tanning agents
  • Metal (especially nickel) jewelry
  • Motor oil
  • Nail polish remover
  • Paints
  • Preservatives
  • Rubber (in clothing, shoes, gloves, etc.), especially latex
  • Shampoo
  • Soaps
  • Sunscreen
  • Toothpaste
  • Varnishes