West Houston Dermatology

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Medical Dermatology



Contact dermatitis is a condition where the skin becomes sore, red, itchy, oozing blisters, scaly or swollen after contact with an irritant or allergen. These reactions are not life-threatening or contagious, but they may be uncomfortable or embarrassing. Contact dermatitis is very common. However, it is also difficult to diagnose because reactions are usually delayed, making it harder to determine their cause.

Symptoms of contact dermatitis will usually occur on the areas of your skin that were directly exposed to the offending substance. It is important to note that reactions can occur immediately, after several hours or days, and at times, long after years of exposure.

Our dermatologists can help you determine if your dermatitis is irritant or allergic. Irritant contact dermatitis is the result of damage to your epidermis, the skin’s protective outer layer, by a chemical or substance. The severity of the reaction is determined by how long you were exposed and how strong or concentrated the substance is. Irritant contact dermatitis is the most common type of contact dermatitis. This is not an allergy—it is just an irritant.

Allergic contact dermatitis is when an allergen causes an immune reaction on your skin. You can be sensitized to a stronger allergen, like poison oak or poison ivy, after only one exposure. A weaker allergen may require several exposures over months or years before it triggers an allergy. Unfortunately, once you have developed an allergy to a particular substance, there is a high chance you’ll be allergic to it for the rest of your life.

In any case, we recommend getting Allergy Patch testing completed at West Houston Dermatology.