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Skin Allergy: Types, causes, symptoms and treatments

Team AckoSept 2, 2022

Apart from the irritation a Skin Allergy causes, it can also be embarrassing to develop rashes on visible body parts. Timely action is essential in such cases. In this article, we aim to address the different types of Skin Allergies and their causes, symptoms, prevention and treatment methods so that you are aware of them and can take the required action.

Skin Allergy

What is a Skin Allergy?

A Skin Allergy is your body’s reaction to an external stimulus to your skin that is considered a threat by your immune system. The reaction or allergy generally comes about because antibodies are sent to the region of impact to combat the threat or allergen. The outcome is usually an itchy rash, and this condition is commonly termed “contact dermatitis”.

Types of Skin Allergies

The following are the primary Skin Allergy types.

1. Atopic dermatitis (eczema)

This is one of the most common types of Skin Allergies in children and is characterised by inflammation, irritation and dryness of the skin. It is usually attributed to the leakiness of the skin barrier and is generally triggered either by food sensitivity or a heritable gene called “filaggrin”. This skin condition typically comes coupled with other related conditions such as food allergy, asthma and allergic rhinitis.

2. Allergic contact dermatitis

As its name may suggest, this skin condition is triggered by your skin coming in contact with an allergen. One commonplace example of this condition is developing rashes after wearing certain jewellery. This is because the jewellery is coated with nickel, and nickel is an allergen. Other common allergens that trigger this condition include the plants: poison sumac, poison ivy and poison oak. These plants are coated with an oil that causes red and itchy rashes.

3. Urticaria (hives)

In this condition, there is an inflammation of the skin caused due to histamine being produced by the immune system. Histamine is a chemical that is responsible for allergic reactions and is produced in response to the body detecting an external threat. There are two types of urticaria, namely acute and chronic. Acute urticaria is generally caused by specific triggers like foods, medications, insect bites, etc. Chronic urticaria, on the other hand, typically has no specific trigger and so is difficult to diagnose. Fortunately, both these conditions are non-communicable.

4. Angioedema

This condition is characterised by the deep layers of the skin swelling up, and it generally develops in the soft tissue of the genitals, eyelids or mouth. Acute angioedema lasts only for a few minutes or hours and is usually triggered by either food or medication. Conversely, chronic recurrent angioedema occurs recurrently over a large span of time and does not have an easily detectable cause.

Signs and symptoms of Skin Allergies

Typical skin allergy symptoms include the following.

  • Burning

  • Redness of skin

  • Rashes

  • Swelling

  • Cracked skin

  • Itching

  • Flaking or scaling of the skin

  • Raised bumps

Causes of Skin Allergies

The following are the common Skin Allergy causes.

  • Cleaning products

  • Chemicals

  • Bug sprays

  • Nickel-based soaps, shampoos, jewellery, etc.

  • Sunscreens

  • Fragrances

  • Medications

  • Balloons

  • Latex 

  • Certain plants

How to diagnose a Skin Allergy

Here are the two most frequently used tests to determine the cause of an allergic skin condition.

  • T.R.U.E. test: Skin Allergies are usually diagnosed using a Thin-layer Rapid Use Epicutaneous Patch Test (T.R.U.E. test). In this test, your doctor will attach multiple panels on your back containing various allergens. Following that, you will be asked to return after a few days to identify which allergen is triggering an allergic response from your body.

  • R.O.A.T. test: A Repeat Open Application Test (R.O.A.T. test) is a follow-up test if you display mild skin allergy symptoms during a T.R.U.E. test. However, it has to be conducted on your own. Similar to a patch test, you need to apply the suspected allergen on your skin for a few days and look out for any allergic reactions.

Treatments for Skin Allergies

Here are the different Skin Allergy treatment options for the different types of Skin Allergies.

  • Atopic dermatitis or eczema: This type of Skin Allergy aggravates if you scratch it. So, avoid scratching it. The most effective treatment is topical ointments and moisturisers. If bacterial infection develops, antibiotics may also be prescribed by your doctor.

  • Urticaria (hives) and angioedema: If you find out the trigger causing the hives, you can avoid it. This will make the symptoms subside. Orally induced antihistamines are another treatment for angioedema and hives. It can help control the itching and rashes.

  • Allergic contact dermatitis: Antihistamine and cortisone medications are usually recommended to combat this type of Skin Allergy. You can also scrub the affected skin with water and soap and later apply a calamine lotion to treat this condition.

Skin Allergy treatment at home

The following are some Skin Allergy treatments you can perform at home.

  • Cold compresses the affected skin regions

  • Apply hydrocortisone cream and calamine lotion

  • Consume doctor-prescribed medication like antihistamines

Recovery tips for Skin Allergies

Follow these tips to speed up your recovery process after suffering from a Skin Allergy.

  • Use a calamine lotion to soothe the rashes.

  • Use cortisone creams to ease the itching.

  • Pat the rash instead of rubbing it.

  • Use only mild, unscented soaps.

  • Avoid bathing in hot water.

  • Do not cover the rash with a bandage.

  • If you sense dryness, use an unscented moisturiser.

  • Avoid using cosmetic products that may aggravate the rash.

  • Avoid scratching the rash. This will reduce the chance of infection.

Frequently asked questions

The following are some of the frequently asked questions regarding Skin Allergies.

What is hereditary angioedema?

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Hereditary angioedema is a rare genetic condition in which the face, feet, hands, airways and intestinal wall become swollen.

What is a dimethylglyoxime test?

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A dimethylglyoxime test detects objects that are made of or coated with nickel. This test is beneficial for those who are allergic to nickel.

Which fluids aid in Skin Allergy recovery?

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Lukewarm water mixed with lime juice and honey is known to fasten the Skin Allergy recovery process.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. It is based on several secondary sources on the internet. As this content piece is not vetted by a medical professional, please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions. Explore more:

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