Contact eczema due to medication and topical treatments

A topical medication is applied directly to the skin and has a local and/or systemic action. Did you know that medication and topical care products in general can lead to contact eczema?



Which medications and care products are involved?

Contact eczema is an adverse reaction that is very often listed in package inserts and directions for use. The cause of this is certain active ingredients and excipients such as preservatives, but also some soothing or healing substances such as Balsam of Peru. There are many medications and topical treatments that can cause allergic eczema:

  • Medications in the form of creams or ointments can cause contact eczema where they are applied. Topical medications based on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), anti-histamines, antiseptics or local anesthetics can all cause eczema;
  • Medications in patch form may cause contact allergies because of the glue they contain;
  • Treatment of sores sometimes leads to contact eczema, due to an allergy to antiseptic or an allergy to the dressings used. Please note that in some cases it is not a contact eczema but rather an irritant dermatitis. Antiseptics are often irritating so that they can perform their role against microbes. They must be handled with care, diluted if necessary and placed on a compress before applying to the skin.
  • Medical devices can also be a source of contact eczema and dermatitis. This is, for example, the case of some medical compression stockings because of the presence of a self-adhesive strip containing glue.

What should you do in the event of contact eczema due to topical medications and products?

In the case of contact eczema following the application of a medication or topical care, it is best to quickly stop using the product in question so as not to aggravate the situation, in agreement with your physician or nurse. Talking about it with these same healthcare professionals will allow you to look for an alternative solution. In case of allergy to dressings or patches, it is advisable to change brands as the components may vary from one brand to another. In some cases, allergy tests are necessary to determine which substance is responsible for dermatitis and you can then stop using it afterwards.

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