Irritant Contact Dermatitis

Clin Rev Allergy Immunol. 2019 Feb;56(1):99-109. doi: 10.1007/s12016-018-8713-0.


Contact dermatitis accounts for 95% of occupational skin disorders. Irritant contact dermatitis (ICD) is often caused by cumulative exposure to weak irritants, accounting for 80% of all cases of contact dermatitis. ICD can co-exist with atopic dermatitis (AD) and allergic contact dermatitis (ACD). Patients with AD and ACD may have a lower inflammatory threshold for developing ICD. Therefore, it needs to be distinguished from lesions of AD and ACD. ICD Patients report stinging and burning in excess of pruritus. Pruritus is classically reported by patients with AD and ACD. ICD lesions are typically well-demarcated unlike AD and ACD. ICD is diagnosed by exclusion. Patients undergo testing to rule out type I and type IV hypersensitivity. Negative results suggest a diagnosis of ICD. Management consists of irritant identification and avoidance with regular emollient use. Although ICD is more common in certain occupations, genetics and environment play significant roles in its development.

Keywords: Allergic contact dermatitis (ACD); Contact dermatitis; Irritant contact dermatitis (ICD); Occupational skin disease; Patch testing.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / diagnosis*
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / etiology*
  • Dermatitis, Irritant / diagnosis*
  • Dermatitis, Irritant / etiology*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Disease Management
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Humans
  • Patch Tests
  • Phenotype
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Symptom Assessment