“Why do I have this itchy rash that comes and goes, doctor? I have been to three other dermatologists, and no one can help me. Is this eczema?” At my Dallas-area office, I probably hear this lament from patients at least half a dozen times per week—and the number seems to be escalating. Patients especially like to blame Covid or the Covid vaccine after 2020.


Allergic contact dermatitis is a real diagnosis that is commonly misunderstood (and probably one of the least favorite to treat by my colleagues) because patients jump on “Dr. Google” for answers—and that is not typically what they find as their diagnosis when they type in words like “rash.” They usually assume it is a fungal infection or mold infestation, or perhaps it is their water, or maybe it is their pet, or I love the one where they think it is their spouse! Sure, you should probably divorce your spouse. But please don’t say it is the rash as the cause!


On average, Americans come into contact with approximately 3,000 potential allergens in the course of a day. Yes, we can become allergic or sensitized to things we have never been allergic to before. Even if we have not changed a single item in our usual arsenal of grooming products, cleaning items, etc., the manufacturers of these items do not always advertise the fact that they may change a single preservative or something else in the long list of ingredients within those products. If someone is allergic to a product, it can takes hours to days for there to be a reaction, which is typically eczema-like in appearance and feel.


Many patients present to me and are told, as adults, “You have eczema.” Eczema is a childhood ailment. You don’t show up in adulthood with eczema for the first time. Thus, if it walks and talks like eczema, but you are an adult, it is allergic contact dermatitis. The silver lining to that cloud is that, unlike eczema—which is a chronic condition that cannot be cured—allergic contact dermatitis should be treated with the appropriate testing, which is patch testing. If the allergen can be determined, it should be avoided and then eliminated.


If you suffer from an itchy rash that comes and goes—perhaps for weeks, months, or even years—you may be dealing with allergic contact dermatitis, and you may benefit from patch testing. See your dermatologist and ask if patch testing may be right for you.


To arrange a visit to the Dermatology Office, call 214-373-7546 or request a consultation online.


Dr. Ellen Turner is a dermatologist at the Dermatology Office, with offices in Dallas and Irving, Texas. www.dermofficedallas.com