Understanding Dermatitis -- Prevention

Medically Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on July 27, 2021
1 min read

Some types of dermatitis are easier to prevent than others. Allergic and irritant contact dermatitis can be prevented by avoiding skin contact with the agents that cause the dermatitis. However, if you come into contact with an irritant, such as poison ivy, wash the exposed skin with soap and water as soon as possible (and all exposed clothing such as gloves and boots so that you don't get re-exposed to the poison ivy resin). Most other types of dermatitis develop in people with sensitive skin and can be prevented only by avoiding the irritant.

If you feel you are at risk for dermatitis, consider these preventive steps:

  • Use a humidifier at home and at work to keep the air from getting too dry.
  • Wear loose-fitting, natural-fiber clothing; untreated cotton is ideal.
  • Avoid plated jewelry, especially in your ears, to prevent nickel-related rashes. Surgical steel or 14-karat gold earring posts are safer choices.
  • Don't wear a watchband that presses against your skin for long periods; the friction and sweat buildup can cause rashes.
  • Take warm, not hot, baths or showers and use mild soaps.
  • Lubricate your skin after a bath and several times during the day when possible using an unscented lotion or cream.