SynopsisCodesLook ForDiagnostic PearlsDifferential Diagnosis & PitfallsBest TestsManagement PearlsTherapyDrug Reaction DataReferences

Information for Patients

View all Images (5)

Irritant contact dermatitis - Anogenital in
See also in: Overview,External and Internal Eye
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed

Irritant contact dermatitis - Anogenital in

See also in: Overview,External and Internal Eye
Contributors: Jeffrey M. Cohen MD, Susan Burgin MD
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed


Irritant contact dermatitis is a reaction caused by direct physical or chemical injury to the epidermis. The damage caused by an irritant leads to inflammation, manifested in the skin as erythema, edema, and scaling. Irritant contact dermatitis should be differentiated from true allergic contact dermatitis, which is a delayed type-IV hypersensitivity (immune) reaction.

Contact dermatitis of the vulva is more often of the irritant type, rather than allergic, due to the persistent moisture and maceration in the genital region.

Soaps, detergents, antiseptic solutions, and topical medications are often the source of irritation. Prolonged or recurrent exposure to an irritant often causes the skin to become lichenified, hyperkeratotic, and inflamed.

Early in the course of irritant contact dermatitis, patients typically present complaining of a burning or stinging; the symptoms and skin eruption usually follow the exposure by hours if the irritant is strong (whereas in allergic contact dermatitis, symptoms are usually delayed by approximately 2 days following exposure). As the irritation becomes chronic and the skin continually inflamed, pruritus can become a predominant symptom.


L24.9 – Irritant contact dermatitis, unspecified cause

110979008 – Primary irritant dermatitis

Look For

Subscription Required

Diagnostic Pearls

Subscription Required

Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

  • Irritant contact dermatitis can often be misdiagnosed for Allergic contact dermatitis (allergic CD) or Contact urticaria. The reaction with contact urticaria will occur in minutes to hours whereas the contact dermatitis takes 24-48 hours. Allergic CD tends to have a more vigorous response than irritant CD does. Patients often have blisters, exudate, edema, and erythema with an allergic reaction. With an irritation reaction, usually only erythema, edema, and a raw, burning sensation are present.
  • Lichen simplex chronicus – can develop as a complication of chronic pruritus
  • Seborrheic dermatitis
  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Genital herpes simplex virus
  • Cellulitis
  • Psoriasis
  • Lichen planus
  • Bowenoid papulosis
  • Squamous cell carcinoma in situ
  • Extramammary Paget disease
  • Tinea cruris
  • Vulvovaginal candidiasis

Best Tests

Subscription Required

Management Pearls

Subscription Required


Subscription Required

Drug Reaction Data

Below is a list of drugs with literature evidence indicating an adverse association with this diagnosis. The list is continually updated through ongoing research and new medication approvals. Click on Citations to sort by number of citations or click on Medication to sort the medications alphabetically.

Subscription Required


Subscription Required

Last Reviewed:08/13/2017
Last Updated:08/15/2017
Copyright © 2024 VisualDx®. All rights reserved.
Patient Information for Irritant contact dermatitis - Anogenital in
Print E-Mail Images (5)
Contributors: Medical staff writer
Premium Feature
VisualDx Patient Handouts
Available in the Elite package
  • Improve treatment compliance
  • Reduce after-hours questions
  • Increase patient engagement and satisfaction
  • Written in clear, easy-to-understand language. No confusing jargon.
  • Available in English and Spanish
  • Print out or email directly to your patient
Copyright © 2024 VisualDx®. All rights reserved.
Irritant contact dermatitis - Anogenital in
See also in: Overview,External and Internal Eye
A medical illustration showing key findings of Irritant contact dermatitis : Burning skin sensation, Erythema, Intertriginous distribution, Pruritus, Scaly plaques
Clinical image of Irritant contact dermatitis - imageId=3921662. Click to open in gallery.  caption: 'Dry skin and scaling of the fingertips.'
Dry skin and scaling of the fingertips.
Copyright © 2024 VisualDx®. All rights reserved.