We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Contact Eczema?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Contact eczema describes two skin conditions that result in rash, irritation, and itchiness on the skin. These are divided into allergic and direct irritant contact dermatitis or eczema. The first is a true histamine response to allergy-provoking substances, such as metals, perfumes, latex, or plant oils, and it can occur anywhere these irritants touch the body. Direct irritant contact dermatitis most often appears on the hands and is an ongoing skin reaction to irritating substances like chemicals of varying types. Avoidance of the offending irritant or allergen usually improves the condition, but this may be very difficult with the direct irritant form, since many people must work with substances that continue to irritate the skin.

The symptoms of contact eczema may vary depending on its type. Allergic dermatitis, could occur anywhere on the body where contact with an allergen has taken place. The rash associated with allergy is usually itchy, and it can sometimes weep or develop blistering of the skin.

Anyone who has ever experienced an allergic reaction to poison oak or poison ivy can quickly recognize allergic dermatitis. This rash should be differentiated from a profuse rash called uticaria or hives that covers the whole body, as part of an allergic reaction. The main difference is contact; with allergic dermatitis, the skin only reacts where the offending substance touched.

Irritant contact eczema is also location specific. The area where the rash develops is the area where the body comes in contact with irritants. In many occupational settings the hands are most affected, and a red, itchy and scaly rash may develop as people repeatedly touch irritating materials.

There are many settings where irritant contact eczema is common, including in hospitals, especially among nurses, at beauty salons, in dental offices and in plant nurseries. The hands seem most vulnerable, not only because they can have direct exposure to chemicals or irritants like latex, but also because they are frequently washed. Repeated handwashing may worsen this skin condition.

There are several goals in treating both types of contact eczema. The first is to get the rash under control. An allergic rash could be treated with antihistamines and possibly steroid creams to accelerate healing. Irritant contact dermatitis can also respond to steroid treatment and moisturizing creams. This is only half the battle; exposure to the irritant or allergen must be minimized, too.

Where possible, people avoid the substance creating the problem, but in work settings, they may need to find ways to work around irritants. Using moisturizers frequently and wearing cotton lined, non-latex protective gloves can be helpful. These measures aren’t always adequate, and some people will need to be reassigned to work that doesn’t use the substances creating the problem. Others simply live with the condition, but this can be uncomfortable. In many countries, employers are legally obligated to provide different job assignments, if an employee is medically advised to avoid certain substances.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.