Contact Dermatitis Treatments

Written by the Healthline Editorial Team | Published on July 10, 2014
Medically Reviewed by George Krucik, MD, MBA on July 10, 2014

Contact Dermatitis Treatments

Contact dermatitis can be an unpleasant condition. It is both uncomfortable and unsightly. Luckily, it is usually not difficult to treat. The first thing is to avoid contact with the irritant or allergen that triggers your dermatitis. This will allow your skin to heal and prevent future flare-ups.

If you know that you have contacted something that causes you to have dermatitis, wash the skin with large amounts of soap and water. Even washing the skin within 15 minutes of exposure to poison ivy can prevent the rash from developing.

In some cases, doing nothing to the area is the best thing. This can prevent further inflammation and spreading of the allergen across the skin.

Home Treatments

If you already have a rash, the following home treatments might be helpful.

Cool compresses

Apply a cool, damp cloth to the affected area. This can help control inflammation and itching. Soaking the cloth in saline or Burow’s solution (solution of aluminum acetate) can offer additional relief.

Over-the-counter (OTC) ointments or lotions

Anti-itch creams that contain aloe or calendula, natural ingredients that are anti-inflammatory agents, can ease itchiness and control inflammation. Some popular OTC brands include Aveeno, Cortizone-10, Lanacane, Gold Bond, and Caladryl.


If you have allergic contact dermatitis, OTC antihistamines, such as Benadryl or store-brand allergy medication, might help.

Lukewarm baths

Baths with uncooked oatmeal or medicated solutions (for example adding baking soda to the water) are also recommended, especially for children.


If your contact dermatitis is severe, your doctor may prescribe corticosteroid skin creams or ointments to reduce inflammation. Steroid creams are very common for people with skin conditions and are often available in low-dose, over-the-counter strengths. It’s important to follow the directions because misuse can lead to more serious skin conditions.

In the most severe cases of skin allergy, prescription-strength corticosteroid creams or ointments can be applied to the skin to reduce inflammation. For widespread or severe allergic reactions, oral or injected corticosteroids may be prescribed. They are generally used for less than two weeks and then tapered off.

Along with, or instead of, corticosteroids, your doctor may prescribetacrolimus ointment(Protopic) or pimecrolimus cream (Elidel) to treat symptoms such as redness, scaling, and itching.

If your rash has become infected, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic.

In some cases, your doctor may recommend not treating the area.

Was this article helpful? Yes No

Thank you.

Your message has been sent.

We're sorry, an error occurred.

We are unable to collect your feedback at this time. However, your feedback is important to us. Please try again later.

Article Sources:

More on Healthline

Migraine vs. Chronic Migraine: What Are the Differences?
Migraine vs. Chronic Migraine: What Are the Differences?
There is not just one type of migraine. Chronic migraine is one subtype of migraine. Understand what sets these two conditions apart.
Seasonal Allergies and COPD: Tips to Avoid Complications
Seasonal Allergies and COPD: Tips to Avoid Complications
For COPD patients, allergies pose the risk of serious complications. Learn some basic tips for avoiding allergy-related complications of COPD in this slideshow.
Lifestyle Changes to Help Manage COPD
Lifestyle Changes to Help Manage COPD
Leading a healthy lifestyle can make a big difference in your COPD symptoms. Learn more about basic changes that will make it easier to manage your COPD.
Famous Athletes with Asthma
Famous Athletes with Asthma
Asthma shouldn’t be a barrier to staying active and fit. Learn about famous athletes who didn’t let asthma stop them from achieving their goals.
Timeline of an Anaphylactic Reaction
Timeline of an Anaphylactic Reaction
From first exposure to life-threatening complications, learn how quickly an allergy attack can escalate and why it can become life threatening.