A woman with allergic contact dermatitis scratching her arm

Penn's customized and individualized skin patch testing method provides patients with a comprehensive understanding of their skin disorder and the best options for treatment and long-term relief from rashes.

What is Contact Dermatitis?

Contact dermatitis is a general term covering many skin disorders that cause a red, itchy rash and inflammation of the upper or outer layer of the skin. It occurs when an external, often irritating substance comes in direct contact with the skin.

Allergic contact dermatitis is a form of contact dermatitis. It is the immune system's reaction to an allergen (external substance) that comes in contact with the skin. Allergic contact dermatitis usually develops several hours after the allergen touches the skin. It may cause a red itchy rash and possibly blisters, swelling, oozing, scaling or scabbing.

People of all ages may be sensitive or allergic to many types of external substances. More than 3,000 types of allergens are known to cause allergic contact dermatitis and may include:

  • Chemicals, dyes, and materials used to manufacture clothing, shoes, undergarments and apparel
  • Concrete
  • Cosmetic products, including hair chemicals, nail polish and nail polish remover, deodorants, moisturizers, aftershaves, perfumes and sunscreens
  • Fragrances
  • Metal compounds in jewelry, especially nickel and other metals such as mercury, gold, cobalt and chromate
  • Plants, especially poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac
  • Rubber products
  • Topical over-the-counter ointments

Penn dermatologists provide direct patient care for allergic contact dermatitis, as well as serve in key roles within the American Contact Dermatitis Society.

In This Section

Treatments and Procedures

On deciding treatment, a customized and targeted skin patch test is applied to identify allergens.

Treatment Team

Penn's world renowned Dermatologists provide expert treatment for Allergic Contact Dermatitis. Browse our list of physicians.

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