Contact Dermatitis

Contact Dermatitis

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Duke dermatologists diagnose and treat contact dermatitis, a skin inflammation, irritation, or allergic reaction that occurs following exposure to a specific substance. The reaction can result from exposure to everyday items like shampoo, clothing, cosmetics, jewelry, and gloves. Or it can result from substances you're exposed to in your workplace. We use the latest techniques to identify the cause of your allergic reaction. Our goal is to determine the cause of your condition, relieve your symptoms, and help you prevent future outbreaks.

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The most effective treatment for contact dermatitis is to avoid the substances that trigger your skin reaction. Our doctors will talk to you about the substances that irritate your skin or cause an allergic reaction, and help you determine the best steps for avoiding them. We will provide a detailed “safe list” of products you can use.

Topical Relief

Skin irritations resulting from contact dermatitis may be treated with:

  • Antihistamines, which control your body’s allergic reaction
  • Anti-itch medicines and moisturizers to relieve the itching and allow your skin to heal
  • Prescription cortisone creams, which alleviate difficult-to-treat rashes
  • Immunosuppressants, which decrease your allergic response
Our Locations
Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.


Physical Exam

The doctor checks your skin’s appearance and does a thorough evaluation of your potential exposure to irritants or allergens at home or work.

Skin Patch Testing

Identifies the source of skin reaction, especially if you experience repeated and long-lasting occurrences of contact dermatitis. Small amounts of potential allergens are applied to adhesive patches, which are placed on your back. Your skin’s reaction to the substances is examined for possible allergies over several days. For your convenience, we usually perform patch testing during your first visit. The week-long patch test process typically involves three visits to our office.

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Why Choose Duke

Advanced Expertise in Identifying Work-Related Contact Dermatitis
Our dermatologists are among a small number in the U.S. with advanced specialty training in occupational and environmental medicine. We have the expertise to evaluate and manage care for work-related skin problems.

Wide Range of Allergen Testing
We use skin patch testing to identify the source of your allergic reaction and test for a wider range of substances than most medical centers. Our patch tests include cosmetic additives, fragrances, metals, and other unusual allergens. We tailor the patch test to fit your lifestyle by testing products you are regularly exposed to at home or work.

Consistently Ranked Among the Nation’s Best Hospitals
In addition, Duke University Hospital is proud to be named the best hospital in North Carolina, and nationally ranked in 10 adult and 9 pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report for 2019–2020.