Contact Dermatitis: Triggers and Treatment

Nov 10, 2023
Contact Dermatitis: Triggers and Treatment
Are you struggling with red, itchy skin and don't know why? It might be contact dermatitis. We walk you through everything you need to know about this condition: its triggers, symptoms, and, most importantly, how to treat it.

Imagine having to second-guess every product you use, every stitch of clothing you wear, or even the chair you sit on, all because they might cause your skin to flare up into a painful, itchy mess. If you’re nodding along, you might have contact dermatitis. 

In San Antonio and Schertz, Texas, there's no better place to find treatment for contact dermatitis than with Dr. Patricia Gomez-Dinger at Advanced Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology.

Take a moment as she helps you better understand what the condition is, what triggers its symptoms, and how to treat it effectively. 

What is contact dermatitis?

Contact dermatitis is a type of skin inflammation that develops when your skin comes into direct contact with an irritant or allergen. The condition is generally categorized into two types:

Irritant contact dermatitis

Irritant contact dermatitis comes from exposure to substances that irritate the skin, such as detergents and soaps.

Allergic contact dermatitis

Allergic contact dermatitis is triggered when the skin comes in contact with an allergen, like nickel in jewelry or poison ivy.

Whatever the cause, symptoms of this condition can be uncomfortable and even disruptive. 

Triggers of contact dermatitis

Knowing what sets off your symptoms is crucial for effective management. Here are some common ones:

  • Chemical agents: Household cleaners, industrial solvents, and detergents
  • Metals: Nickel, cobalt, and chromium salts are often found in jewelry, buckles, and metal snaps
  • Plants: Poison ivy, oak, and sumac
  • Fragrances and cosmetics: Many skin care products contain ingredients that can irritate sensitive skin
  • Clothing: Materials like latex or wool can sometimes trigger symptoms.
  • Occupational hazards: Hairdressers, health care workers, and construction workers often come in contact with substances that can cause dermatitis

Symptoms of the condition can vary but often include redness and itchiness, followed by bumps and even blistering in severe cases. Swelling is another common symptom. The area can also become dry and cracked over time, especially if scratched.  

Diagnosis and treatment

Dr. Gomez-Dinger diagnoses contact dermatitis through a physical examination and a thorough review of your medical history. She asks about your daily routine, occupation, and any recent changes in products you use, like soaps or detergents. 

Additionally, our team may also perform a patch test. We apply small amounts of potential allergens to your skin using adhesive patches, and then we remove the patches after a few days and check the skin for reactions.

Treatment options

For treatment to be effective, identifying and avoiding triggers is essential. However, treatment options include:

Topical corticosteroids

These are creams that reduce inflammation and itching.


These can help control itching but are generally less effective for contact dermatitis than for other types of allergies.


These moisturizers keep your skin hydrated and may help restore your skin barrier.

The best treatment, however, is prevention. Once we identify the allergen or irritant, it should be avoided.

Managing contact dermatitis may seem overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be a lifelong struggle. The key is to understand what triggers your symptoms and know how to manage them effectively. 

At Advanced Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology Center, our experts offer not only symptom relief but also a long-term treatment strategy to help you live comfortably in your skin.

Why let contact dermatitis control your life when effective treatment is just a click away? Request an appointment with us online or call the nearest office today.