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Contact dermatitis is an allergic or irritant reaction to a substance that has touched the skin. This can be a cream, lotion, cosmetic, plant, metal, dye, shoe or clothing component, soap or detergent, etc. The classic example of contact dermatitis is poison ivy.
Identifying the cause of the contact dermatitis can be straightforward, or may require extensive detective work or patch testing. Until the source of dermatitis is found and avoided, treatment can be with cool compresses, cortisone creams or pills, protective clothing, and moisturizing creams and lotions.