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Treatment

Your doctor usually will treat contact dermatitis with the following:

  • An oral antihistamine to control the itch. Common antihistamines include:

    • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)

    • Hydroxyzine (Atarax)

    • Cetirizine (Zyrtec)

    • Loratadine (Claritin)

    • Fexofenadine (Allegra)

Of these, the last three are less likely to cause drowsiness.

  • A corticosteroid to relieve skin inflammation. In most cases, the corticosteroid can be applied as a cream or ointment. If symptoms are severe, corticosteroids can be given by mouth or by injection.

  • A moisturizer to help restore the normal texture of the skin. Your doctor may suggest a nonirritating ointment or cream that contains few potential allergens. Examples include:

    • Petroleum jelly

    • Vanicream

    • Cetaphil

    • Eucerin

For many people, oatmeal baths (Aveeno) also help.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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