Emory Dermatology: Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a skin condition that is caused by an allergic reaction to certain organic or chemical substances. It can be as simple as a bad case of poison ivy or it can be a sudden and severe reaction to a chemical in a substance as common as shampoo.

The physicians of the Emory Dermatology's Contact Dermatitis Division are expert at diagnosing and testing the substances that may be causing a skin reaction. Reactions can range from itchy, patchy red and inflamed areas to extreme swelling and fluid-filled skin eruptions.

Until the source of the irritant is found, treatment may be ineffective. Emory Contact Dermatologists use a variety of methods for discovering the causes, including close scrutiny of a patient's habits, diets and product usages, as well as patch testing.

Here are some tips from the Emory Contact Dermatitis Division that you can use to minimize discomfort until the causes for your outbreak have been determined:

  • Avoid any suspected products or materials that may be causing the outbreak until a determination can be made.
  • Do not scratch the itch!
  • Take cool baths instead of hot showers, (heat exacerbates the itchiness), and take fewer baths than you normally take.
  • Do not use soap or other detergents, which could be irritants.
  • Do not use antiseptics or any products except what your doctor recommends. You may be given a corticosteroid cream by your physician, but only apply as much or little as you have been instructed.


The offices of the Emory Dermatology Department Contact Dermatitis Division are located at 1525 Clifton Rd, NE, 3rd Floor on the Emory University campus in Atlanta, Georgia.


Robert A. Swerlick, MD

Salma de la Feld, MD


For more information or an appointment with the Emory Dermatology Contact Dermatitis Division call 404-778-3681 or 404-778-3333.