Treatment of contact dermatitis should begin with washing the skin using copious amounts of soap and water after contact with a known allergen. 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 most beneficial. This can prevent further inflammation and spreading of the allergen across the skin.

Home Treatments

Contact dermatitis can be treated easily at home using the following treatments:

Cool compresses

Applying a cool, damp cloth to the affected area can help control inflammation and help control itching sensations.

Over-the-counter 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 your contact dermatitis is caused by allergens, you might benefit from over-the-counter antihistamines, such as Benadryl or store-brand allergy medication.

Lukewarm baths

Baths with oatmeal or medicated solutions (such as saline) are also recommended, especially for children.

Doctor’s Prescriptions

If your contact dermatitis is severe enough, 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 of the medication because misuse can lead to more serious skin conditions.