While most cases of contact dermatitis don’t require medical help, this is not always the case. Indications that you should see your doctor include:
- the rash is painful
- the rash is weeping or oozing
- the rash covers a large area of your body
- the rash affects your eyes or face
- you have a fever
- the rash won’t go away
If your rash is persistent or severe, you should see your family doctor or primary care physician. They will examine you, discuss your medical history, and try to determine the cause of your condition. If medication is needed, they can prescribe it. If your rash doesn’t respond to standard treatments, your doctor can refer you to a specialist.
If your rash seems to be allergic contact dermatitis, your doctor may refer you to an allergist/immunologist. An allergist is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating allergies. If your regular doctor cannot determine the exact cause of your allergic reaction, an allergist should be able to.
Your doctor may send you to a dermatologist if you have a persistent problem with irritant contact dermatitis. A dermatologist is a doctor who specializes in treating conditions of the skin, hair, and nails.
Your doctor needs complete information to give you the best care. Writing down a few things ahead of time will help you answer your doctor’s questions. Your doctor will want to know the following:
- When did your symptoms start?
- Do you know what triggered them?
- What treatments have you tried?
- Have you been avoiding the offending substance/activity/item?
- Does the rash get better then worse? Or does it stay the same?
- Do you have known allergies?
- Does anyone in your family have allergies?
- Have you had this before?
You will most likely have questions for your doctor as well. Writing them down will ensure that you don’t forget what you want to ask. The following are some suggestions. You can add your own to the list.
- What do you think is causing this?
- Do I have an allergy?
- Will it go away?
- Do I have to avoid the cause forever?
- Do I need tests? Medication?
- Will it leave a scar?
- How can I keep this from happening again?
Contact dermatitis is usually not a major problem. However, if it is persistent or severe, it can interfere with your everyday life. The rash can be both painful and unsightly. If you are having trouble keeping your dermatitis under control, it can be helpful to talk to others who have the same problem. They can often offer both support and advice. Your doctor may be able to refer you to a support group. There are also support groups online. The following websites might be helpful: