In general, you can prevent contact dermatitis by avoiding exposure to irritating chemicals, plants, jewelry and other substances that trigger ICD or ACD.
To help prevent diaper dermatitis, you should change your baby's diaper frequently, clean the soiled area with warm water and a soft cloth, and apply a protective coat of zinc oxide ointment. Also, avoid using store-bought wipes and cleansers on your child's skin, because these products may trigger skin reactions.
To help prevent work-related ICD and ACD, the U.S. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has established the Allergic and Irritant Dermatitis Team to research contact dermatitis in the workplace. The team's goal is to give workers reliable information about specific types of protective equipment, protective clothing and skin creams that can be used to prevent contact dermatitis on the job.
Your doctor usually will treat contact dermatitis with the following:
An antihistamine to control the itch - Common antihistamines used to treat contact dermatitis include diphenhydramine (Benadryl), hydroxyzine (Atarax), cetirizine (Zyrtec), loratadine (Claritin) and fexofenadine (Allegra). Of these five medications, the last three are less likely to cause drowsiness than the first two.
A corticosteroid to relieve skin inflammation - In most cases, the corticosteroid can be applied as a cream or ointment containing one of the following: hydrocortisone (Hytone), hydrocortisone valerate (Westcort), desonide (Tridesilon or DesOwen), hydrocortisone butyrate (Locoid), desoximetasone (Topicort), fluocinonide (Lidex) or amcinonide (Cyclocort). If symptoms are especially severe, corticosteroids can be given by mouth or by injection.
A moisturizer to help restore the normal texture of the skin - Your doctor probably will suggest a nonirritating ointment or cream that contains few potential allergens. Examples include petroleum jelly, Vanicream, Cetaphil and Eucerin. For many people, oatmeal baths (Aveeno) also help.