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- Treatment Overview
Dermatitis Treatment Overview
First steps to consider
- Most mild to moderate dermatitis can be treated at home.
- Try OTC hydrocortisone creams and a good skin care routine.
When you may need a provider
- Your dermatitis hasn’t improved after 2–3 weeks of home treatment.
Call 911 or go to the ER if you have any of the following symptoms:
- A swollen tongue or throat
- A weak and rapid pulse
- Feeling dizzy or faint
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When to see a healthcare provider
Consider seeing a dermatologist or other healthcare provider if non-specific dermatitis symptoms, such as raised red bumps and itching, don’t improve after 2–3 weeks of home treatment. They can help you figure out what’s causing the dermatitis, discuss a treatment and prevention plan, and suggest prescription medications for your dermatitis
Getting diagnosed for dermatitis
A doctor can usually diagnose non-specific dermatitis based on your symptoms. But because there are several other types of dermatitis (and other skin conditions that may look similar to non-specific dermatitis), they may order tests to rule them out. Tests include a blood test, skin biopsy, or an allergy skin test.
What to expect from your visit
- Your healthcare provider will ask you about the type and severity of your symptoms and any home treatments you’ve tried.
- They may recommend prescription creams or lotion, like hydrocortisone.
- They will also discuss a skin care routine to help prevent and treat it. This may include heavy-duty moisturizers.
Prescription medication for dermatitis
- Hydrocortisone cream
Types of dermatitis providers
- A primary care provider can treat non-specific dermatitis symptoms.
- A dermatologist specializes in skin health. They can do additional testing to rule out other types of dermatitis and may be more knowledgeable about treatment options.
- An allergist may be recommended if your doctor thinks you should have allergy testing.
Treating dermatitis at home
There are many ways to treat symptoms of non-specific dermatitis, like raised red bumps and itching, at home. Dermatitis treatment may take a few weeks for the rash to go away. OTC dermatitis treatments include:
- OTC hydrocortisone cream to reduce inflammation, swelling, and redness. Use it twice a day for 2–3 weeks.
- If you have itching, OTC oral antihistamines can soothe it, though some versions may make you drowsy.
- Natural remedies for dermatitis may help reduce inflammation. These include sunflower seed oil and evening primrose oil.
Changes to your skincare routine can also reduce and prevent symptoms of dermatitis, like washing with soaps rich in fat or glycerin and applying heavy moisturizer or an oil-based emollient. Thick water-based moisturizers (CeraVe, Cetaphil) add moisture to skin. Oil-based emollients like petroleum jelly soften skin to help it stay hydrated.
Consider seeing a dermatologist or other healthcare provider if your symptoms haven’t improved after 2–3 weeks of home treatment.
OTC treatments for dermatitis
- Hydrocortisone cream (Cortizone 10, Aquaphor Itch Relief Ointment, etc.)
- Oral antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), loratadine (Claritin), etc.
- Heavy moisturizers (CeraVe, Cetaphil)
- Oil-based emollients (petroleum jelly)
- Sunflower seed oil and evening primrose oil
How can I treat dermatitis?
- Try to identify and avoid whatever you think may be causing the irritation.
- Stop using products with perfumes and dyes that may cause a sensitivity reaction.
- Try to improve the normal skin barrier by adding moisture. Water-based moisturizers (CeraVe, Cetaphil) add moisture to skin. Oil-based emollients (petroleum jelly) soften skin to help it stay hydrated.
- Take short showers rather than long showers or baths and avoid very hot water.