Have you ever gone for a walk outdoors only to return home with your skin red and itchy? What you are experiencing is probably an allergic reaction. It’s uncomfortable and irritating, but it can be treated.
When your immune system reacts to an allergen, your cells release a chemical called histamine, which causes swelling, redness, and itching. Skin allergies can result in a variety of symptoms that are usually uncomfortable. One of the best ways to control them is by keeping away from allergens.
However, managing your allergies can be challenging, especially if you don’t understand what exactly you are allergic to. Here’s an overview of what you need to know about skin allergies.
Allergic Contact Dermatitis
Contact dermatitis is a type of eczema. Allergic contact dermatitis is a specific type caused by a reaction to an allergen. Usually, this condition develops in early childhood, especially if exposed to diapers or fragrances. Below are examples of common allergens that can cause contact dermatitis:
- Specific foods
Some plants may also have substances that cause allergic reactions, such as poison ivy. Usually, contact with these substances causes an immediate reaction.
Symptoms of a skin allergy may include:
- Peeling/flaking skin
- In severe cases, anaphylaxis
Diagnosing Skin Allergies
To know what triggers your allergies, you have to consult a doctor. They will ask you for any observations on when and how your symptoms start. They will then perform physical tests to determine which allergens are causing your bodily reactions.
One type of test is the prick test. Your doctor or nurse will prick some marks on your skin where they’ll drop proteins or extracts of common allergens. A small bump or rash indicates an allergic reaction to the exposed allergen.
These tests, however, may have false positives and false negatives. To avoid getting false results, doctors also introduce histamine and saline solutions to your skin. Most people react to histamine, so if your skin does not react to it, your test may be inconclusive. Consequently, a response to saline and glycerine solutions indicates having sensitive skin, so test results need to be interpreted carefully.
Children who can’t tolerate skin tests undergo the Specific IgE (sIgE) blood testing. For this procedure, lab technicians test your blood sample for sensitivity to allergens. Then, they will measure the number of antibodies in your bloodstream.
People who aren’t fond of needles can be diagnosed using a patch test. A patch test applies over 50 possible allergens to your skin. You will wear the patch for 48 hours. While wearing the patch, you will have to avoid bathing and other activities that can cause heavy sweating. After 48 hours, your doctor will check for localized rashes as an indication of skin allergy.
Treatment for Skin Allergies
One way of treating your skin allergy is by avoiding your triggers. Your test results usually report the substances you’re allergic to, so you know what to avoid. Before wearing jewelry or applying skincare products, make sure you aren’t allergic to any of their active materials or ingredients.
Your doctor may also suggest taking medication such as antihistamine to prevent symptoms from occurring. They may also prescribe creams to apply to the affected area on your skin. For the rare cases of a sun allergy, doctors often prescribe healthy sunscreens.
Allergy Doctors in Northeastern Illinois
Several allergens cause skin allergies and contact dermatitis. These result in itching, rashes, and even blisters in your skin. So before your allergic reactions worsen, consult your doctor to receive proper diagnosis and treatment.
At Oak Brook Allergists, we understand how uncomfortable allergies can get, which is why we offer convenient treatment plans. Our healthcare providers will be with you from diagnosis to treatment. If you feel you or your child may be having an allergic reaction, visit us at any of our convenient locations. You can also book an appointment through our online form or call us at (630) 574-0460.