5 Best Ways to Treat Contact Dermatitis

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Contact dermatitis affects millions worldwide, as it is a common rash triggered by contact with a particular substance. When it comes to treating contact dermatitis, many people opt for the pure avoidance of the offending substance like topical steroids, moisturizers, antibiotics, and preventative measures (hands), among others.

Contact dermatitis occurs when the skin comes in direct contact with a foreign substance, often one that your body thinks is dangerous and reacts accordingly.

In the case of contact dermatitis, there are two differentiations:

  • Allergic contact dermatitis
  • Irritant contact dermatitis

Treatments of Contact Dermatitis

Treatments of contact dermatitis generally take the preventative approach:


Given that this condition occurs when you come in contact with an irritant, allergen, chemical or substance, the easiest way to avoid these rash breakouts is simply by avoiding the substance in the future. If you can narrow down the cause, typically with patch testing, it is much easier to isolate the offending compound and try to avoid it. Unfortunately, some of the common irritants are additives in common products or are natural parts of certain jobs. In these cases, proper preventative measures and at-home treatments are often the best options.


Cracked and dry skin is far more susceptible to negative reactions like contact dermatitis. Therefore, it is very important to prevent dry skin, namely through the use of moisturizers. This can be in common store-bought brands or more natural solutions, such as coconut oil or other essential oil blends.

Preventative Measures

Since irritant contact dermatitis so often affects the hands, a simple means of treatment is to wear gloves and other protective measures in the future. Provided your condition isn’t too serious, the symptoms should go away relatively soon.


Topical steroid creams are very good at reducing inflammation in irritated areas of the skin. These can be of varying strengths, and can often work for years, but it isn’t a permanent solution. Eventually, these sorts of irritated areas become more resistant to steroids, requiring stronger doses, which may have other side effects. Only occasional use of topical steroids is recommended, to ensure their long-term efficacy. Short periods of more intense steroid injections can also help to clear up a case of chronic dermatitis.


If you don’t handle an outbreak of this rash quickly, the skin can crack, leaving it wide open for infections. As a result, antibiotics are occasionally prescribed if the condition has progressed significantly.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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