Contact Dermatitis (Poison Ivy/Oak/Sumac)

Contact Dermatitis

Treatment

Treatment includes washing with lots of water to remove any traces of the irritant that may remain on the skin. You should avoid further exposure to known irritants or allergens.

In some cases, the best treatment is to do nothing to the area.

Emollients or moisturizers help keep the skin moist, and also help skin repair itself. They protect the skin from becoming inflamed again. They are a key part of preventing and treating contact dermatitis.

Corticosteroid skin creams or ointments may reduce inflammation. Carefully follow the instructions when using these creams. Overuse, even of low-strength over-the-counter products, may cause a skin condition.

Along with, or instead of corticosteroids, your health care provider may prescribe drugs called tacrolimus ointment or pimecrolimus cream to use on the skin.

In severe cases, corticosteroid pills may be needed. You will start them on a high dose, which is tapered gradually over about 12 days. You may also receive a corticosteroid shot.

Wet dressings and soothing anti-itch (antipruritic) or drying lotions may be recommended to reduce other symptoms.

Expectations (Prognosis)

Contact dermatitis usually clears up without complications in 2 or 3 weeks. However, it may return if the substance or material that caused it cannot be found or avoided.

You may need to change your job or job habits if the disorder is caused by occupational exposure.