How Allergies Affect Your Skin

Woman scratching at allergies How Allergies Affect Your Skin

If you’ve ever suffered with an allergy rash such as hives or eczema, you may be concerned about what to avoid to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Often, these skin conditions have an underlying cause of an allergic reaction to stimuli. It’s not always easy to pinpoint what’s happening, but here’s what to look for and how you can treat the issue if it comes up.

How Allergies Affect Skin

The Most Common Allergy Rashes

Hives -- also known as urticaria, welts, or wheals -- are a rash characterized by red, slightly raised, itchy bumps on the skin. They can be found anywhere, but most often occur on the face, lips, neck, and chest. Hives can potentially be caused by a variety of things, which makes the initial trigger of the particular outbreak so difficult to nail down. If a patient regularly breaks out in hives, doctors usually recommend keeping a meal and activity diary as an attempt to trace patterns. If a certain food or exposure to a certain environment is detected as an allergen, the doctor may recommend complete or partial avoidance to prevent future hives outbreaks.

Eczema -- also known as dermatitis -- is another condition often caused by exposure to stimuli that the patient is allergic to. This specific type of dermatitis is characterized as allergic eczema. It can be caused by anything the patient’s body recognizes to be an allergen, but it’s most often a result of exposure to latex, perfumes, metals, hair dye, and the chemicals in detergents or cleaning solvents. Skin affected by eczema is often darker, thicker, itchier, and possibly more raised than the surrounding unaffected skin.

Treatments for Allergic Skin Reactions

While hives often go away on their own over the course of a few hours or days, in severe allergic reactions, further steps may be necessary. For instance, if hives are accompanied by anaphylaxis -- the closing of the throat -- or shortness of breath, an EpiPen may need to be administered. Allergic reactions, in this case, can be life-threatening. If the only symptom is the hives rash, taking an OTC antihistamine can often be the solution. If the rash occurs on a chronic basis, a doctor may prescribe further hives treatments, like the medication omalizumab or an oral corticosteroid.

If an allergy rash manifests as eczema, a dermatologist or allergist may conduct patch testing to determine the source of the allergen. Topical steroids or non-steroidal topical medications are often prescribed for allergic eczema. OTC antihistamines can provide some relief from itching and help reduce any inflammation as well. UVB light therapy and laser treatments conducted in a medical setting are also popular and proven options for addressing eczema.

Always use safe and gentle products when washing the skin or cleansing the face. Avoid harsh chemicals and perfumed products. Avoid tight or wool clothing as well, opting for loose-fitting, cotton clothing when possible.

Contact Vanguard Dermatology

Don’t continue to suffer from outbreaks of hives or eczema rashes. If you’re in the greater New York City area, contact Vanguard Dermatology today for an appointment with one of our board-certified experts, who can talk you through treatment options and steps for prevention.

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