Allergies are the overreaction or hypersensitive responses of the immune system towards a particular substance (allergen). An allergen can be any material such as pollen, dust, animal dander, bee venom, food, proteins, steroids, drugs, dairy products, sunlight, cosmetics, and poison ivy. Skin allergies can be caused by a variety of factors, that result in an itchy rash, which can be red, painful, and bumpy. These rashes can occur anywhere on the body, as soon as the triggering factor or allergen comes in contact.
Skin allergies are sometimes also termed as contact dermatitis as the allergic responses occur when an allergen comes in contact with the physical barrier (skin) or enters inside the body. Then the body’s immune system releases certain chemicals, namely histamines that cause allergy symptoms.
Sometimes skin rashes can also occur in illness caused by certain diseases such as chicken pox (causative agent: varicella zoster virus) or measles.
A skin specialist can help to determine the allergic skin condition, and help to develop a treatment plan to improve this skin condition.
Our dermatologists at Dermaworld Skin Clinics can help to determine the trigger. The doctor will conduct a physical examination, and will also ask certain questions about the skin products the patient uses.
* Prick test (skin allergy test), skin test, blood tests are done to determine the skin allergy-triggering factor or agent.
* It is recommended to know the triggering factors and avoid any further exposure to them.
* Take preventive medicines such as antihistamines, apply anti-itch medications, topical corticosteroids to manage the symptoms and reduce swelling and inflammation. But these must be used only after a certified skin specialist’s prescription.
* Moisturize the skin and keep it hydrated. Avoid hot showers or baths.
Skin allergies can cause irritating symptoms and are often bothersome. It is necessary to consult a dermatologist or skin specialist to identify the right treatment plan to get the skin allergies under control.
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The following are the most common allergic skin problems
1. Atopic dermatitis (Eczema)
The term “eczema” is derived from a Greek word which means “to boil over”. It is a chronic skin condition in which the red, itchy, scaly, inflamed, dry, and leathery patches appear on the skin. It mostly affects infants and adults and can occur at any point in life. Eczema is often accompanied by hay fever or asthma. Eczema can affect all parts of the body and sometimes family history, stress, and certain environmental factors are responsible for causing eczema.
Eczema can be mild, moderate, severe, and symptoms may differ according to the type of eczema. It is not a contagious disease, and oral medications, light therapy, ointments, over-the-counter (OTC) remedies, immunosuppressants, and certain steroids can help to treat eczema.
2. Urticaria (Hives)
It is a type of skin inflammation, in which the red, itchy, raised and bumpy areas appear on the skin. This condition occurs when the immune system releases histamines as it encounters certain allergens (insect sting, sunlight, medications). Hives can appear anywhere on the body, such as face, throat, ears, tongue and so on. Acute hives goes away in a few days but chronic hives can come and go for months or years. Chronic hives may be caused because of hepatitis, cancer, thyroid, and infection.
3. Angioedema (Swelling)
It is characterized by deep swelling around the lips, throat, lungs, eyes, and some time also in hands, feet, and genital areas. If angioedema occurs in the lungs and throat, it causes difficulty in breathing, and can be life-threatening.
The symptoms of hives and angioedema are:
Based on the symptoms, medical history, skin test, blood tests are conducted to determine the cause of hives and angioedema. Anti-histamines, biological drugs are prescribed to relieve their symptoms.
4. Contact dermatitis
It is a reaction that occurs when the skin comes in contact with the irritant or allergen. Red itchy bumps and rashes occur on the skin. The allergens include metals (jewellery, alloys and steel items), nail paints, plants, latex gloves, detergents, shampoos, soaps, plants, medications, certain chemicals, and many more.
In many cases, sunlight also acts as an intermediate to an allergic reaction. When the skin (applied sunscreen, lotion, cosmetics, serum, perfumes) is exposed to sunlight, the skin irritation and allergic responses take place.
A skin test is performed to determine the major cause of the problem. The best method to prevent contact dermatitis is prevention from what causes a rash and try to avoid it.
Don’t scratch, and try to resist it. Antihistamines, cold compress, oatmeal bath, hydrocortisone creams are prescribed to get relief from itching.
* Insect stings can also cause various skin problems or rashes and present with the following symptoms:
* Genetic factors are also sometimes responsible for causing asthma, allergies, eczema and hives.
Having an allergy can also risk in the occurrence of certain other medical conditions such as
Ways to manage itching from skin allergy