Skin Problems and Contact Dermatitis


Contact dermatitis is inflammation of the skin that occurs when you come into contact with a particular substance. It can cause red, itchy and scaly skin, and sometimes burning and stinging.

Contact dermatitis is a type of eczema. This is the name for a group of skin conditions that cause dry, irritated skin. There are several other types of eczema, including:


There are two types of contact dermatitis:

  1. allergic contact dermatitis – this is caused by an allergen (a substance that causes an immune response in the skin)
  2. irritant contact dermatitis – this is caused by an irritant (a substance that damages the skin physically)

Allergic contact dermatitis involves the immune system, which reacts abnormally to the allergen (that substance causing the reaction – allergy-generating – allergen).

Irritant contact dermatitis can occur in anyone who is exposed to irritants for a sufficient amount of time.

Both types of contact dermatitis can cause your skin to become red, blistered, dry and cracked. Sometimes, it is possible to have both irritant and allergic contact dermatitis at the same time.

Irritant contact dermatitis is more common than allergic contact dermatitis.

Three-quarters of all contact dermatitis cases affect the hands. It is also more common in women. Contact dermatitis can develop at any age and can affect anybody.


Treatment at the Pharmacy

Treatment for contact dermatitis involves using emollients to soothe the skin. Corticosteroidmedicines can be used to treat severe symptoms.

With treatment, most people with contact dermatitis can expect their symptoms to improve at least partially. In up to 2 out of 5 people, the condition will clear up completely.



Emollients are substances that help soften and smooth your skin to keep it supple and moist.  It is important to keep skin moisturised to prevent it from becoming further irritated. Emollients prevent water being lost from the outer layer of the skin and add water to the skin. They act as a protective barrier to keep the moisture in and the irritants out.

Several different emollients are available. You may need to try several to find one that works for you. Your Pharmacist may advise a mix of emollients for you.  Your Pharmacist can also recommend the best emollients for use in children and babies. The difference between lotions, creams and ointments is the amount of oil they contain. If you have been using a particular emollient for some time, it may start to irritate your skin. If this happens, speak to your Pharmacist.

Use your emollient frequently and in large amounts. You may want to keep separate supplies of emollients at work or at school.


Another part of treating contact dermatitis involves avoiding the allergens or irritants that cause it. If you can successfully avoid the allergens or irritants, your condition will clear up.


Leonie’s star recommendations:





Time and again, I have found Epaderm cream to be the best emollient available for irritated, dry skin including eczema, psoriasis and other dry skin conditions.  It’s suitable for all ages including babies.  From personal experience, it is brilliant for new baby facial rash.

Epaderm cream is a rich emollient, formulated with clinically proven ingredients that deeply moisturise and soften the skin. It may be used as a skin cleanser or skin moisturiser. It does not contain fragrances, colourings, additives or preservatives.

How to Use

Ensure hands are clean before applying Epaderm Cream.

  • For use as an emollient: Apply Epaderm to the skin as often as required.
  • For use as a skin cleanser: Use as required when washing or in the shower.



la roche-posay lipikar range

Equally,  Lipikar Baume AP – is another firm favourite of mine.  It offers lasting hydration leaving skin feeling soothed and more comfortable and to help space out feelings of dryness.  It’s great for sensitive skin – it’s non-sticky, which allows for daily application.  I use it as a daily moisturizer and it makes my skin soft and supple.  I apply daily on my face and body. It has no parabens and is non-perfumed.  It contains an anti-itch agent and is also really good for baby’s skin.  We offer samples in the pharmacy for you to try.