Springdale Mason Pediatrics

Contact Dermatitis - Irritant


  • Red area of the skin from contact with an irritant

Call or Return If

  • Rash spreads or gets worse
  • Rash lasts for more than 1 week
  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • Your child becomes worse

About This Topic


  • Rash on one small part of the body (localized)
  • Red or pink rash
  • Small spots or solid redness
  • Flaking or peeling of the skin can also occur.
  • Unlike allergic contact dermatitis, usually not itchy.


  • Skin contact with an irritant (such as a harsh chemical).
  • If it's just on the fingers, it's usually due to a soap or hand cream. Rubber gloves can also be a cause.
  • Not an allergic reaction

After Care Advice

  • Most new localized rashes are due to skin contact with an irritant.
  • Here is some care advice that should help.
Avoid the Cause:
  • Try to find the cause and avoid it.
  • Consider irritants like a plant (such as evergreens or weeds). Also, chemicals (such as solvents). Irritants also can include fiberglass or soaps. A new cosmetic or new jewelry may also be the cause.
  • A pet may carry the irritant. Some children react directly to pet saliva.
Do Not Use Soap:
  • Wash the red area once with soap. Reason: To remove any irritants left on the skin.
  • Then, do not use soaps on it. Reason: Soaps can slow healing.
  • Cleanse the area when needed with warm water.
Steroid Cream:
  • If the rash becomes itchy, put on 1% hydrocortisone cream.
  • No prescription is needed.
  • Use it 3 times per day.
  • Exception: Do not use for suspected ringworm.
Try Not to Scratch:
  • Help your child not to scratch the rash.
  • Cut the fingernails short.
What to Expect:
  • Most of these rashes go away in 2 to 3 days.
Return to School:
  • Your child does not need to miss any child care or school.

Author: Barton Schmitt MD, FAAP
Copyright 2000-2021 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC
Disclaimer: This health information is for educational purposes only. You the reader assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
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