Contact Dermatitis And Cosmetics - McGovern Allergy And Asthma Clinic

Contact dermatitis can be caused by cosmetics if you have a skin allergy to one of the ingredients. This is especially the case during the month of October as everyone puts on face paint and makeup for their Halloween costumes. It’s important when selecting face paint or Halloween makeup to read the ingredients and to avoid cosmetics with harsh chemicals or skin allergens.


What is Contact Dermatitis?

Contact dermatitis is a rash or skin irritation that appears after contact with an affecting skin allergen. A reaction can show up minutes to hours after contact and, in more severe cases, can last up to 2 to 4 weeks on the skin. Common symptoms of contact dermatitis include:

  • Itchy rash
  • Leathery patches on the skin and darker patches in the affected area (hyperpigmentation)
  • Dry, cracker, or scaly skin
  • Bumps, blisters, or oozing and crusting on the skin
  • Swelling, burning, tenderness to touch


Causes of contact dermatitis can vary, from various soaps, solvents, hair products, and, very commonly, beauty cosmetics. Skin allergens in cosmetics can cause a reaction on the skin if you have an allergy to that ingredient. This is even more likely to happen with Halloween and costume makeup, as ingredients used to make these can be even more irritating than mainstream beauty brands.


How can I avoid contact dermatitis?

When choosing costume makeup or new cosmetics, it’s important to read the ingredients before purchasing the product. Latex, fragrances, alcohol, preservatives, chemicals, or dyes are all common skin allergens to trigger a skin reaction. Certain brands of Halloween face paint or makeup can be harsh on the skin and contain these irritants. Once purchasing the cosmetic, make sure to do a patch test on a small area of the skin so if there is a reaction, it is confined to a smaller area of the skin. Be careful of false lashes, skin patches, or nails, as these items and their adhesives can cause skin irritation.


Treating Contact Dermatitis

If you do end up experiencing contact dermatitis from using a cosmetic product, there are some things you can do at home to help with your symptoms before seeing an allergist.

  • Immediately stop using the product and avoid its use
  • Apply an anti-itch cream or ointment
  • Take an anti-itch drug such as an antihistamine
  • Apply a cool, wet compress to the affected area


It’s important to visit your local allergist so they can assess the contact dermatitis and provide a treatment plan. Your allergist can also provide skin allergy testing to pinpoint the affecting allergen, so you know what caused your contact dermatitis. A patch test may be provided to recreate the outbreak and confirm the skin allergy irritant. In this type of test, small amounts of the potential allergens are put on sticky patches and placed on the skin, usually on the back, to help minimize any discomfort. The patches are then left on for about 2 to 3 days and then assessed by your allergist to determine the next course of action for your contact dermatitis.



Skin Allergy Treatment at McGovern Allergy & Asthma Clinic

Contact dermatitis and skin allergies can cause great discomfort and affect your well-being if left untreated. The board-certified allergists at McGovern Allergy & Asthma Clinic can identify the cause of your skin allergies and provide a customized treatment plan to relieve your symptoms for healthy, beautiful skin!


Conveniently located in Bellaire, Texas, our clinic has provided the Houston community with the best in allergy and asthma care since 1956. To schedule an appointment, contact our clinic office staff at 713-661-1444 or request an appointment online by clicking the link.