What is Skin Allergy?
The responsibility to take care of one's skin, other vital organs, health, rest, to a large extent, is on the concerned individual. Skin is a significant body part which cannot be ignored as it augments a person's overall looks and appearance. Skin allergy and diseases are common among individuals who are exposed to harmful chemicals and germs. Irritation in the skin is caused by a variety of factors that include disorders in the immune system, infections, toxic effects of medications. The skin allergy is triggered if an allergen is responsible for immune system response. A common type of skin disease is known by the name of Atopic Dermatitis or Eczema.
Causes of Skin Allergy
Skin allergy is caused because of a number of reasons such as fragrances, latex, nickel, poison ivy, oak, beauty products, clothing materials, hair dye, perfumes. Products like perfume sprays, shampoos, body wash, detergent for laundry have characteristic fragrances . More often, skin irritations are caused, on exposure to these products. Nickel is an element that is used to make jewelry items and other accessories like eyeglasses, watches, buttons, zippers, buckles. There are individuals who are sensitive to nickel and they suffer from various types of skin related problems.
Another pertinent cause for skin allergy is the use of latex. In this context, it is important to mention that there are different types of skin allergy conditions. Atopic dermatitis, a form of Eczema, is hereditary in nature. Hives, also known as urticaria, is caused when the human skin is infected and therefore remains exposed to allergens.
Contact dermatitis is a skin condition that is caused whenever the skin comes in contact with allergen or irritant. Sometimes, it appears that an allergen does not cause skin reaction unless exposed to direct sunlight. Contact dermatitis can occur with products like soaps, fabric softeners, laundry detergents, shampoos. It can occur if an individual remains exposed to hard water.
Other causes of skin allergy are as follows:
- Dust mites.
- Pet fur.
- Foods (eggs, milk, fish, wheat, nuts, shellfish, soy and others).
- Insect stings or bites (from wasps, black flies, mosquitoes, bees, fleas, fire ants, houseflies and others).
- Medicines (aspirin, penicillin, and others).
- Chemicals used in the household can also cause skin allergy.
Signs and Symptoms of Skin Allergy
There are different types of symptoms for skin allergy and understanding the cause of the problem by identifying the symptoms can be a bit difficult. Some of the common signs and symptoms of skin allergy include itching, redness in the skin, bumps, rashes. Skin allergy is caused because of many reasons. They can be caused because of poisonous plants, allergic reactions to food or medication, illnesses like measles and chicken pox.
Atopic dermatitis which is a form of Eczema affects both children as well as adults. Symptoms of this skin allergy include itchy, dry, red and irritated skin.
Hives are yet another skin condition which is caused because of skin infections or skin exposure to an allergen.
Whenever the skin comes in contact with allergic substances (allergens) then it runs the risk of contracting contact skin allergy. Such dermal conditions are characterized by the blisters, rashes, burning and itching. Products like soaps, fabric softeners, laundry detergents, shampoos are known to cause contact dermatitis.
Latex skin allergy symptoms include itching, hives, occurrence of a runny or stuffy nose. Among the other symptoms, chest tightness, wheezing and breathing difficulty are common.
Many individuals who are prone to skin allergy, experience the following symptoms within a short period of eating or touching food items like eggs.
- Skin reactions, swelling of the skin, appearance of rashes, eczema, and hives.
- Breathing issues.
- Runny nose.
- Pain in the stomach, vomiting, nausea or diarrhea.
Tests to Diagnose Skin Allergy
For skin allergy, diagnosis is equally important as its treatment. Allergic tests for skin allergy include the following:
Skin Prick Test to Diagnose Skin Allergy
Skin prick test to diagnose skin allergy is a scratch test, checks for allergic reactions to as different allergy-causing substances, simultaneously. The test is done to identify the cause of skin allergy. In most instances, it is observed that allergy is as a result of pollen dust, pet fur, dust, detrimental effects of certain medicines, food items. Such tests can be painful involving the use of needles, often causing momentary discomfort to the patient. The skin prick test involves the use of allergen extracts. For a patient who is suffering from skin related ailments, suspected to be caused by allergens, the objective of the test is to see whether the skin is reacting normally to the test.
Skin Injection Test to Diagnose Skin Allergy
The skin injection test for diagnosing skin allergy involves the use of needles and therefore can be painful for many skin patients. The test involves the use of allergen extracts, particularly at the injection site. The doctor makes observations about any kind of allergic reactions occurring in the skin. This test is useful for patients who are victims of allergy caused by snake venom or penicillin.
Another Test to Diagnose Skin Allergy is Patch Test
Another test to diagnose skin allergy is patch test and it is performed to see whether a particular substance is causing any kind of allergic skin irritations. The allergic reactions induced for the sake of the tests take the time to develop. It is non-invasive and does not involve the use of the needles. During the tests, the patients need to wear the patches having allergens for 48 hours. It is absolutely necessary for the patient to avoid bathing, activities that cause sweating during such tests. Irritation in the skin, particularly at the patch site indicates that the patient is suffering from skin allergy.
How is Skin Allergy Treated?
The treatment for skin allergy depends on the cause of skin allergy. Most common skin related ailments include atopic dermatitis or Eczema, hives. Eczema is characterized by the occurrence of rashes along with itching. Effective treatment of Eczema is the use of moisturizers, ointments to reduce inflammation. If the Eczema is caused because of bacterial infection then antibiotics prescribed by a registered dermatologist should be administered. The use of loose cotton garments, body suits prevent itching of the skin and thereby protect it. Soap products should be summarily avoided as their use can be detrimental to the skin.
Home Remedies for Skin Allergy
If an individual is allergic to dust or pollen then that person may try some simple tips to figure out the allergen types that are creating the issues. Maintaining a record of the individual's eating habits and activities is vital as these things help figure out the triggers. Wearing a necklace or medical alert or bracelet is helpful as it allows others to know of the skin allergy condition. For individuals suffering from severe skin allergy conditions, consulting the physician is the best option. Skin allergy conditions can get worse if untreated. If the dermal conditions are mild and respond to home remedies then the patients need to treat them accordingly. If the skin conditions are aggravated then the patients need to visit the dermatologists and seek his/her advice.
Coping with Skin Allergy
Coping with any type of skin allergy is not easy. It is ideal for the individuals with skin allergy to consult an expert dermatologist in case the skin related issues get out of control. However, there are home remedies that allergic patients can explore. For a person suffering from skin allergy, it is absolutely imperative to avoid contact, not use products that are known to cause skin allergy, wear loose fitting clothes to avoid itching, scratching thereby prevent the skin from further damage.
Risk Factors for Skin Allergy
Under certain conditions, for an individual, the risk of developing skin allergy is higher if that person concerned has the following health issues:
- Asthma-related issues.
- Has a family history of allergies.
- Is a child below the age of 18 years.
Children, as they grow old, they seem to overcome their skin allergy conditions.
Complications of Skin Allergy
Severe skin allergy may cause life-threatening allergic complications like anaphylaxis. Most of the allergic conditions are associated with the effect of allergens, insect bites, ill effects of penicillin, food. Some of the common symptoms of anaphylaxis include the following:
- A reduction in the blood pressure is a complication of anaphylaxis.
- Loss of consciousness.
- Severe shortness of the breath.
- Skin rashes.
- Weak or rapid pulse.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Severe wheezing.
Individuals suffering from skin allergy run the risk of developing complications like asthma, Eczema, sinus infections, Nasal polyps, Migraine headaches.
Prevention of Skin Allergy
Those who suffer from skin allergy conditions can limit the allergic reactions by avoiding triggers. This implies avoiding pets if an individual is allergic to pet fur. Those who are allergic to pollen dust, it is all the more advisable to stay away from pollen grains. Allergens attack a person when that individual is outdoor. It is advisable for a person who is allergic to stay indoors when the atmospheric pollen counts are high. Insect bites can cause inflammation and hence a condition of allergy. When prevention is better than cure, it is important to use ointments that prevent mosquito bites or insect bites and thus reduce the risk of occurrence of the conditions of skin allergy.
Prognosis/Outlook for Skin Allergy
The prognosis/outlook for a early recognised skin allergy is excellent. Some of the types of skin allergy requires long term treatment and the prognosis is good if the treatment course is completed without any interruptions.
Recovery Period/Healing Time for Skin Allergy
For a complete recovery from the skin allergy, it is absolutely important to configure the type of ailment one is suffering from. Both diagnosis and treatment of the ailment are equally important. The disease symptoms help the able dermatologist in identifying the type of skin allergy, the person is suffering from and once that is done, treatment starts. Besides treatment, it is important for the patient to keep in consideration certain things so that their skin problems do not get aggravated. Avoiding products that can cause skin allergy, staying clean, applying appropriate ointment to the affected area, wearing loose fitting clothes helps to keep the skin diseases under control.