How can I know if I have contact dermatitis?

If you have a skin rash that won't go away, visit your health care provider. If he or she suspects allergic contact dermatitis, patch testing may be performed. In this test, small samples of chemicals are placed on an area of skin on your back to see if a rash develops. There are no needles or pricking of the skin. These areas of the skin are then evaluated after 48 hours and again at 96 hours or 1 week.

The advantage of patch testing is that, if you are allergic to any chemical/product, the allergens can be identified, and your healthcare provider can effectively treat the rash with therapy and avoidance of the allergen(s). There are no tests that can be done for irritant contact dermatitis. Tell your healthcare provider about any irritating substances or chemicals that you regularly come into contact with (including cosmetics, lotions, and nail polish).

With either type of contact dermatitis, you can avoid substances you suspect and see if the rash improves.

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