Dermatitis is skin inflammation. Dermatitis may be caused by allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, pollen, and certain foods. Dermatitis can also develop when something touches your skin and irritates it or causes an allergic reaction. Examples include soaps, chemicals, latex, and poison ivy.

What are the signs and symptoms of dermatitis?

You may have any of the following, depending on the cause:

  • An itchy rash
  • Redness
  • Bumps or blisters that crust over or ooze clear fluid
  • Swelling

How is dermatitis diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine your skin. He or she will ask about your rash and any other symptoms you have. Tell him or her if you noticed anything trigger your rash, such as a certain food or activity. Tell him or her about any medicines you are taking or any allergies or medical conditions you have.

How is dermatitis treated?

Treatment depends on the cause of your rash. You may need medicines to help decrease itching and inflammation or treat a bacterial infection. They may be given as a topical cream, shot, or a pill.

How can I manage dermatitis?

  • Apply a cool compress to your rash. This will help soothe your skin.
  • Apply lotions or creams to the area. These help keep your skin moist and decrease itching. Apply the lotion or cream right after a lukewarm bath or shower when your skin is still damp. Use products that do not contain dye or a scent.
  • Avoid skin irritants. Examples include makeup, hair products, soaps, and cleansers. Use products that do not contain a scent or dye.

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) or have someone call if:

  • You have symptoms of anaphylaxis, such as sudden trouble breathing, throat swelling, or feeling dizzy or lightheaded.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You develop a fever or have red streaks going up your arm or leg.
  • Your rash gets more swollen, red, or hot.

When should I call my doctor?

  • Your skin blisters, oozes white or yellow pus, or has a foul-smelling discharge.
  • Your rash spreads or does not get better, even after treatment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.