Skin Allergies

Having skin allergies can really ruin your day. Imagine you’re at the beach, or trying on this new eyeliner, or preparing for an important board meeting, when your skin suddenly starts to itch, burn, redden, and swell. If this alarms you, don’t worry. You are not the only one who suffers from skin allergies. Here’s some information on how to recognize the most common types of skin allergies and how to manage them.

The most common allergies of the skin are contact dermatitis, eczema, and hives.

Contact Dermatitis is the skin’s allergic reaction to something it touches, with red, swollen, blistered, intensely itchy areas of the skin as symptoms.

The usual culprits are chemicals in everyday substances that are applied topically such as moisturizers, shaving creams, cosmetics, shampoos, soaps, perfumes, powders, deodorants, sunscreens, medications, and hair dyes. Other causes are nickel found in costume jewelry and eyeglass frames; plants like poison ivy; chromates found in cement, leather, and household cleaners; and latex in rubber products.

Eczema, or Atopic Dermatitis, is a chronic and extremely itchy skin inflammation, wherein scratching aggravates the condition of the rash, leading to redness, swelling, cracking, “weeping” clear fluid, and eventually, crusting and scaling.

Eczema is most often found in areas known as “flexures,” such as the back of the knees, front of the elbows, and behind the ears, where the skin folds back on itself. Children are more susceptible to eczema of a family member has had allergic conditions like asthma or hay fever in the past. Complications occur when infection develops due to excessive scratching on the affected area.
Common triggers are extremes in temperature, irritation to wool and synthetic fabrics, ingredients in soaps and strong detergents, certain foods like wheat and dairy products, and environmental irritants such as pollens, house dust mites, animal dander (scales or fur).

Hives, also called Urticaria, is a skin allergy involving red circular hives/wheals, or raised welts. Itching is severe, but sometimes absent. A more severe form of hives involves swelling of the face, tongue, extremities and genitalia.

Hives is usually triggered by allergies to food, such as shellfish, nuts, strawberries, chocolates, and other things like feathers, animal hair, and cosmetics. Reactions to medications such as penicillin, aspirin, ibuprofen, and morphine are also causes. Others are insect bites, heat, cold, skin pressure, and infections such as Hepatitis B.


If you have allergies, do something about it as soon as you can.  It won’t hurt to take an allergy skin test today to find out what you are allergic to. Check also if your rashes are less obvious during weekends or holidays. This would probably mean that your allergy is due to a work-related substance.

There is no permanent cure. The best thing to do is to avoid your allergy triggers. It may help to switch to hypoallergenic and fragrance-free products. If contact dermatitis, eczema, or hives occurs, they can be treated with over-the-counter antihistamines. But if the situation worsens, it is always best to consult your doctor.

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