Contact dermatitis is a skin reaction from contact with certain substances. The substances may be:
Common irritants that can cause contact dermatitis in children include:
Common allergens that can cause contact dermatitis in children include:
Contact dermatitis can occur in any child. If your child has atopic dermatitis (eczema), he or she is at increased risk for contact dermatitis.
Symptoms can be a bit different for each child. The skin may be:
Symptoms are often worse where the substance came in contact with the skin. Larger areas may also be affected. Many of these symptoms may be caused by other skin conditions. Have your child see their healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
The healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history. They will give your child a skin exam. The provider will also ask about recent contact with any irritants or allergens. Your child may also have tests, such as skin tests or blood tests. Your child may need to see an allergist or dermatologist. An allergist is a doctor with special training to treat allergies. A dermatologist is a doctor with special training to treat skin problems.
Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.
Treatment may include:
If your child has contact dermatitis from poison ivy, oak, or sumac:
For more severe reactions, contact your child's healthcare provider. They may prescribe corticosteroid pills or liquid, or other medicines.
You can help prevent contact dermatitis in your child by making sure they stay away from any substances that caused the problem in the past.
Call the healthcare provider if your child has:
Call 911 if your child has contact dermatitis with trouble breathing.
The pediatric specialists at Children's National Hospital have the expertise to diagnose, treat and manage conditions of the skin, nails and hair common in infant and younger patients. Discover more about the treatments we offer.
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The Division of Dermatology at Children's National Hospital continues to expand services as more families seek our expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the skin, hair and nails.