Irritant Contact Dermatitis Medication

  • Author: Daniel J Hogan, MD; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
Updated: Apr 16, 2014

Medication Summary

After the identification and removal of any potential causal agents, the use of ceramides creams or bland emollients and bland barrier creams such as those containing dimethicone are the mainstays of medical treatment for irritant contact dermatitis.

A number of agents commonly found in therapeutic products for the skin (eg, propylene glycol, lactic acid, urea, salicylic acid) may produce further skin inflammation and may need to be avoided in these individuals. Topical corticosteroids play a limited role in the treatment of irritant contact dermatitis. They do not address the process directly, but they may be helpful for superimposed eczematous features.


Corticosteroids, topical

Class Summary

Corticosteroids are immunosuppressives with anti-inflammatory properties that modify the body's immune response to diverse stimuli. Other actions include vasoconstriction and antiproliferation. These agents have limited use in the treatment of irritant contact dermatitis.



A highly potent, fluorinated corticosteroid (class 2-3), amcinonide suppresses mitotic activity and causes vasoconstriction. It stimulates synthesis of enzymes needed to decrease inflammation and may suppress histamine release associated with pruritus.

Fluocinolone (Capex, Derma-Smoothe/FS)


Fluocinolone is a fluorinated corticosteroid of mid potency at the 0.025% concentration (class 4-5) and mild potency at the 0.01% concentration (class 6).

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Daniel J Hogan, MD Clinical Professor of Internal Medicine (Dermatology), Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine; Investigator, Hill Top Research, Florida Research Center

Daniel J Hogan, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Academy of Dermatology, American Contact Dermatitis Society, Canadian Dermatology Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Michael J Wells, MD, FAAD Associate Professor, Department of Dermatology, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Paul L Foster School of Medicine

Michael J Wells, MD, FAAD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Academy of Dermatology, American Medical Association, Texas Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Paul Krusinski, MD Director of Dermatology, Fletcher Allen Health Care; Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Vermont College of Medicine

Paul Krusinski, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, American College of Physicians, Society for Investigative Dermatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

William D James, MD Paul R Gross Professor of Dermatology, Vice-Chairman, Residency Program Director, Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

William D James, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, Society for Investigative Dermatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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Chronic irritant contact dermatitis of the hands in an older worker; the condition resulted in early retirement.
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