What are Skin Allergies?
Skin allergies can be caused by a variety of factors. These can include immune system disorders, medications, and/or infections. Something touches your skin, and your immune system responds to the allergen, triggering the attack. It overreacts and sends antibodies to help fight the allergen. The result is a red, itchy rash, hives or swelling where the allergen came in contact with.
What Causes Skin Allergies?
Skin allergies can surface at up to 10 days after your first contact with the allergen. It could be years before you have an allergic reaction to it, but once you develop an allergy, you could have a reaction within a few minutes.
The most common causes of skin allergies include:
Nickel is most commonly found in metal products. The allergy may be set off by the needles used in piercings or by contact with watchbands, eyeglass frames, zippers, or other metal fasteners such as buckles, buttons, snaps and hooks. If nickel is a trigger, nylon or coated-metal can be used.
Sunscreens and bug sprays contain chemicals that are harmless by themselves but when exposed to the ultraviolet rays of the sun, can be converted into allergens. This is considered a photocontact allergy or photoallergic reaction. Common ingredients that can cause allergic reactions included para-aminobenzoic acid, benzophenones, oxybenzone, salicylates and cyclohexanol.
Antibiotic creams and ointments are commonly used in treating cuts. For those sensitive to neomycin, an ingredient found in topical antibiotics and anesthetics used to provide pain relief, inflammation and rashes may appear.
Perfumes and fragrances are among the most common causes of contact allergies in adults. These are found in products such as shampoos, soaps, body washes and household products like cleaners, laundry detergents and dryer sheets. Unscented products can also cause allergic reactions if they contain a fragrance to block unwanted scents.
Plants, including poison ivy, commonly contain an oil called urushiol that can cause an allergic reaction. Those allergic to urushiol will develop itchy skin, redness, hives and blisters.
Latex is a milky fluid that comes from rubber trees and is processed to make balloons, waistbands on clothing, rubber bands, condoms, and other products. The allergy is a reaction to certain proteins in latex that your body mistakes for harmful substances.
Symptoms & Signs
Skin allergies are commonly associated with the following symptoms:
- Raised bumps
Skin allergies are diagnosed through skin tests, which indicate what you’re sensitive to. A TRUE test is often used to diagnose patients of skin allergen triggers. It is a pre-packaged set of three panels, each is smaller than a dollar bill and has 12 patches with samples of possible allergens. You will be required to wear them for 2 days, then evaluated to observe reactions. You might need to repeat this process a few times to determine consistency and observations.
If you have a mild reaction in any patch test, you might need to follow up with a ROAT test. Similar to the TRUE test, this is done by yourself.
Upon diagnosis, your doctor will determine a treatment plan best suited for your needs and lifestyle.
Prevention and Treatment
The best treatment is prevention. Determine what causes your symptoms, and avoid it. When you do have a reaction, try to ease the symptoms and prevent an infection. Avoid scratching, even though it is hard to resist the urge. For relief and home remedies, try these:
- Hydrocorisone cream
- Ointments like calamine lotion
- Cold compression
- Oatmeal baths
Consult your doctor about what’s best for your specific condition. They can prescribe stronger medicines if needed.
Schedule a Consultation
Children and adults can develop different types of skin conditions. Topical triggers can develop allergic skin rashes and other conditions, and can cause discomfort. Recognizing and understanding the symptoms, causes and treatment options can ease side effects of skin allergies and triggers. If you suspect skin allergens, it may be time to discuss a prevention and treatment plan with your doctor. Join our many satisfied patients and schedule an appointment with Dr. Shukla today so that you can enjoy life without worrying about allergies.