As skin reacts to either allergens or irritating substances, it can cause an array of symptoms on the affected skin.

While the two different types of contact dermatitis—irritant and allergic—have different causes, they often cause similar symptoms, such as:

  • Redness
  • Tenderness
  • Itching
  • Dryness
  • Flaking
  • Scaliness
  • Skin thickening
  • Feeling of warmth
  • Oozing
  • Blistering
  • Lesions (in extreme cases), including papules (pimple-like)
  • Swelling on the top layer of skin (epidermis)
  • Swelling of deeper layers of skin, often in the eyelids, mouth, or genitals

Skin allergy symptoms usually appear one to three days after contact with the allergen.

Hives may be a result of a food or drug allergy, but they are also common from contact with latex. This is a particularly prevalent allergy among health care workers who often use latex gloves.

Irritant contact dermatitis often appears similar to a sun burn: red, swollen, and itchy skin.