Itchy, Inflamed Rash

Allergic contact dermatitis causes your skin to become inflamed, irritated, red and sore after contact with a substance you're allergic to.

Common skin allergens include:

  • Adhesives
  • Jewelry, especially if it contains nickel
  • Medication
  • Plants, like poison ivy
  • Personal care products
  • Cosmetics and fragrances
  • Latex

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

Allergic contact dermatitis may occur suddenly or develop over time with repeated exposure. Symptoms depend on the cause and severity of your allergy. Common symptoms include:

  • Itchy, red rash
  • Dry, scaly skin
  • Blisters, sometimes with weeping fluid and crusting
  • Tenderness, swelling or burning
  • Darkened, leathery skin

A patch test is the best way to diagnose allergic contact dermatitis. During patch testing, a specialist applies small patches of potential allergens to your skin. The doctor removes the patches two days later and examines your skin to determine if an allergic reaction has occurred. Depending on your allergies, you may require additional visits for further observation.

Allergic contact dermatitis usually clears up within several weeks of contact with the offending substance. It may return if you continue to have contact with the allergen.

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Why Choose Penn State Health for Care

Advanced Expertise, Expert Care

The team of dermatology experts at Penn State Health provides the most advanced care available in the region. We are one of the only facilities in central Pennsylvania to offer diagnostic patch testing. Our medical team is consistently recognized nationally through Best Doctors in America and America’s Top Doctors awards. Our specialists also participate in worldwide conferences and speaking engagements, in countries including India, Korea, Germany, Japan and others.

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