If you’re exposed to an allergy trigger in your environment, your body may react with an overblown immune response. You may sneeze, wheeze, or have a runny nose or watery eyes. Or, if you’re like millions of American adults and children, your skin will itch and break out. Why is this happening? Let’s look at the causes of common skin allergies and solutions.
What Are Skin Allergies?
Skin allergies are your body’s response to ordinary substances in your immediate environment that your immune system mistakenly recognizes as dangerous. Maybe you ate a certain food or touched/inhaled something, like dust or certain plants. These things are called allergy triggers.
The most common type of skin allergy is contact dermatitis, also called atopic dermatitis. It happens when you’re exposed to an irritant, such as laundry detergent, latex, or poison ivy. Consequently, you develop skin symptoms, which may include:
- Intense itching
- Burning and stinging sensations
- Oozing blisters
This condition is also termed eczema. Some people experience a sudden onset of its symptoms, including periods of relative calm and recurring flare-ups.
Usually, people with skin allergies have a family history of allergies, or they may have seasonal hay fever or even asthma. Whatever the case, all allergies have a strong auto-immune component–that is, there is a physiological defect in the immune system which produces these uncomfortable symptoms.
Skin allergies typically develop during childhood. However, it’s not uncommon to suddenly develop allergies during adulthood. Immune system changes happen constantly, so the development of conditions like allergies is possible at any age. Regardless of when you develop skin allergies, it is best to get it checked out by a doctor.
What Can I Do About My Skin Allergies?
You can take control of skin allergies with the help of an allergist. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and details about when/how the symptoms formed. They will also check any skin issues you may be experiencing, as well as perform testing to recognize your triggers, which may include:
- Blood work
- Skin patch or skin prick tests, which introduce small amounts of a possible allergens under the skin
From there, you’ll start an individualized care plan to lessen flare-ups and manage your symptoms. Localized medications help many people. Anti-itch creams (containing corticosteroids) or for severe cases, oral steroids, work to suppress the immune response. Immunotherapy, or allergy shots, and oral medications treat underlying allergic responses.
In addition, as you and your doctor understand what causes your skin allergies, you can take steps to avoid your triggers. While you may not be able to steer clear of them all, these precautions can help:
- Use dye- and fragrance-free hand soaps, laundry, dish detergents, and lotions/moisturizers
- Wash your hands immediately after contacting an allergen, when coming in from the outdoors, or when leaving your work environment
- Stay well hydrated, and use a room humidifier in the winter
- Track your symptoms in a journal, noting possible triggers and what helps relieve them
Skin Allergy Treatment in Downers Grove, Elmhurst, Naperville, and Plainfield, IL
Oak Brook Allergists provides the diagnostic testing and continuing care adults and children need to relieve their allergies. We encourage you to speak with one of our board-certified allergy specialists about your symptoms. Dr. Knysak, Dr. Pongonis, and Dr. Rubin will be happy to help you feel your very best.
We have locations in Downers Grove, Elmhurst, Naperville, and Plainfield. For an appointment, call us at (630) 574-0460, or fill out our appointment request form.