November is National Healthy Skin Month, and since skin is the body’s largest organ, it’s pretty important! Like other organs, though, skin can succumb to various problems including itchy, unsightly, and sometimes painful allergic reactions. Here are some of the most common allergy-related skin problems.
Also known as atopic dermatitis, eczema is a common skin condition and associated with allergic rhinitis, asthma, and food allergy. It is characterized by the “leaking” of the skin barrier. When this happens, the skin becomes drier and more susceptible to inflammation. Eczema manifests through itchy rashes that usually occur on the face, hands, wrists, and skin creases such as the undersides of the knees or top sides of the elbows.
If you have eczema, keep your skin moisturized with topical ointments or moisturizers to prevent skin from drying. When taking a shower, use mild soap and warm (not hot) water, but be sure not to stay in the bath (or shower) for too long or the skin could become even drier. For medicines, antihistamines and hydrocortisones are recommended to alleviate itching and inflammation.
2. Allergic Contact Dermatitis
When an allergen comes in direct contact with the skin, allergic dermatitis is triggered. An example of this is when you find your ears swelling and itchy after using a new set of earrings or any jewelry that contains nickel. Coming in contact with dangerous plants can also lead to dermatitis. Common remedies for this condition include topical ointments or medicines.
Once the immune system releases histamine, hives manifest. When this happens, small blood vessels leak, then skin swells. Hives can either be white or red bumps in different sizes. This itchy skin condition can manifest anywhere on your body.
Hives can be acute (short-lived, often in reaction to a certain allergen) or chronic (occurring over six weeks or more or going away but recurring frequently). Both acute and chronic hives can be treated with antihistamines. For severe itching or inflammation, the doctor may suggest higher doses of the medicine.
Symptoms of angioedema include red welts that usually appear near the lips and eyes but can also appear on the hands, feet or even in the throat. The area with angioedema can sometimes be painful and inflamed. Antihistamines, along with corticosteroids, can help with angioedema.
For short-lived bouts with allergic skin conditions, your doctor can likely recommend effective over-the-counter or prescription medications or creams. If your skin allergies are recurring, though, consider allergy treatment to address the underlying allergic disorder. For more information on treatment options (including under-the-tongue allergy immunotherapy drops), contact Family Allergy Clinic.