Allergic Reactions & Skin Allergies
What is a Skin Allergy?
A skin allergy occurs as a result of the skin becoming irritated, through a series of reactions and responses by our body’s immune system. Generally, a foreign substance or allergen, must be responsible for setting off that immune system response. An allergic reaction causes unwanted skin irritations, including, a rash, bumps, hives, swelling or inflammation, and skin that itches and burns.
Some of the more common skin allergies include:
- Eczema or Atopic Dermatitis: One of the most common allergen-based skin conditions, especially in children and teens (but still possible in adults), eczema occurs amongst those patients with sensitive skin, that is easily irritated, itchy and has a tendency to be dry. While eczema often has a genetic link, it is most commonly set off by environmental factors and other, similar conditions. Eczema is closely connected to asthma, food allergies, and seasonal allergies – it is highly probable that an individual suffering from any of these common, allergen-based issues, may also suffer from highly sensitive skin, that is likely to have atop dermatitis. Flare-ups are commonly caused by allergies or other adverse reaction, to things like certain foods, soaps, lotions, stress, and changes in the air quality.
- Allergic Contact Dermatitis: This form of a skin allergy is less common but is still fairly prevalent amongst those with other allergies. Contact dermatitis is a condition in which when a patient makes skin contact with a certain chemical or material it causes a reaction and a noticeable skin irritation form. For example, an individual touching poison ivy. Many or even most people, are allergic to the oil produced from the poison ivy or poison oak plants, therefore when they make contact, they will develop a rash, or other patch of inflammation.
- Urticaria: Also known as hives, welts, or wheals, these allergic reactions are characterized by raised bumps appearing along the skin. These hives will often appear as a result of food allergies. When the body feels the threat of allergens, its response mechanism is to flood the area with histamines – which cause the bumps or hives. Urticaria can also be caused by other irritants like bug bites, aside from just conventional allergens.
- Angioedema: This is a allergic reaction that is characterized by swelling, deep within the skin. most commonly, this swelling occurs along more sensitive areas of the face and mouth area, such as the eyelids, lips, mouth, and even the throat.
Symptoms: Common Symptoms of Skin Allergies
Symptoms are highly dependent upon the specific allergic reaction you are suffering from.
- Eczema – Characterized by itchy, scaly, reddish patches of dry skin rashes. Most commonly along areas like the face, hands, elbows, and knees.
- Contact Dermatitis – With this allergic reaction, patients can expect a rash or series of rashes that are covered with raised bumps, blisters, and hives. Generally, these symptoms will become progressively worse from the point of initial contact.
- Hives – Raised, reddish, itchy, sometimes even flat-headed bumps that appear during certain allergic reactions. Often can be tender, and a sign of a dangerous skin allergy.
- Angioedema – Severe allergic inflammation. Due to some allergies, angioedema on the throat and/or eyelids, can cause them to be swollen shut – preventing us from seeing or breathing properly.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Dr. Lodha has had years of experience dealing with a wide variety of allergic reactions and skin allergies – from the simplest and most common, to the most severe. No matter what your allergy issues might be, the team at Pura Dermatology is here for you!
Generally, in order to treat skin allergies, we will first need to identify the condition, and exactly what type of allergy we are dealing with. Once we have a better idea of what we are dealing with, we can then loo towards finding the root cause of your allergies. Dr. Lodha will use a number of diagnostic methods including:
- Asking questions about your symptoms, things you have been doing or consuming that may be out of the ordinary, etc. This will give us a better idea of what the source is.
- Carefully examine the skin, throat, eyes, nose, chest and more.
- Diagnostic tests including:
- Skin Prick Test – using sample allergens, placed along an area that is cut slightly, to gauge your sensitivity.
- The Patch Test – similar to the skin prick test, however, a small amount of an allergen is placed on the skin and covered with a bandage for a few days. We will then see how the skin reacted – good gauge for contact dermatitis.
- Blood tests and more.
The best method to treating skin allergies is to identify the source of your allergies, and work to avoid making contact with that compound or solution. Generally, for dermatitis issues like eczema, the irritations will dissipate within 14 days to a month, once you no longer expose yourself to the allergen. Also, you may want to add certain moisturizers to help combat the dry skin and use gentler soaps & shampoos. For more information about allergies, or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Lodha, be sure to contact us today.