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Could You Have Skin Allergies?

Allergens are everywhere. They can be disguised as innocent little plants – like poison ivy – or sweet smelling perfumes. They can be airborne and land on your eyelids. They can come in the form of cigarette smoke or chemical sprays. They can be seasonal with the arrival of pollen or they can be hidden in your home, mattress or carpet as dust mites. All of these things can trigger an allergic response that causes sneezing, eye watering, stuffiness and more.

Skin allergies are sneaky, too. Anything that comes in contact with your skin can trigger a skin reaction that results in a red, itchy rash or even hives. It takes at least 10 days to become sensitive to something that you’ve been in contact with. That can make it very difficult to isolate the cause of the rash. Sometimes it can take years of contact before you have a reaction. After you develop askin sensitivity, though, you could react within just a few minutes of contact. Some causes of skin allergies include nickel, makeup, lotions, fragrances, shampoos, cleaning products, medications, plants and latex.

To determine what you are allergic to, many allergists or dermatologists use the TRUE test. It consists of a set of small patches that the doctor attaches to your back. Each one has a sample of a possible allergen. After wearing the patches for two days, the doctor will check for reactions. Your doctor may want to do further testing using substances that are unique to you and your work or home environment. If you have a problem with nickel, you can use a dimethylglyoxime to test objects in your life for their nickel content. When you have a skin reaction to an irritant, it is usually a form of contact dermatitis.

When you have a skin reaction, it’s important not to scratch because the afflicted area can become infected. There are several creams and lotions, such as hydrocortisone cream and calamine lotion,which you can use to help with the itching. Home remedies, such as oatmeal baths and cold compresses, can also bring relief. Preventing an attack is the best plan of action, however. Do your best to figure out what is causing your allergic reactions and remove it from your environment.


April 27, 2016 by Blue Lizard Staff

Is This Rash Serious?

If you have a red, scaly rash that itches like crazy, you probably have a form of contact dermatitis. When your skin comes in contact with something it doesn’t like – poison ivy, for example – it becomes inflamed, sometimes to the point of blistering. If the inflammation continues over time, your skin can even become cracked and scaly.

There are several different types of dermatitis including contact dermatitis, atopic dermatitis and seborrheic dermatitis.

Contact dermatitis

The most common type of dermatitis is contact dermatitis, which can be caused by an allergic reaction or skin damage from an irritant. Common causes include fabrics, household cleaning products, cosmetics, workplace chemicals, metals and plants. Because contact dermatitis is caused by an irritant, the first step in treatment is to wash the affected area thoroughly. Wet dressings may help reduce itching and drying, and anti-itch creams may help relieve the symptoms. Be careful though -- some over-the-counter drugs can actually increase the symptoms. If the rash is caused by inflammation, you may need a corticosteroid cream. Identifying the cause of the irritation is vital; the dermatitis will continue to reoccur as long as you come in contact with the irritant.

Atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis shows up on the skin of infants as itchy, dry, scaly patches of skin, usually the cheeks and head. As children get older, it moves to the creases of elbows and knees. Atopic dermatitis, though incurable, can be managed by avoiding case-specific environmental triggers and things that dry your skin, i.e. chlorinated swimming pools, fragrances in lotions and soaps, or rough materials such as wool. Stress can also make atopic dermatitis worse, as can sudden temperature changes. Oatmeal baths can help reduce the aggravating itch that accompanies dermatitis.

Seborrheic dermatitis

Dandruff and cradle cap in infants are examples of seborrheic dermatitis, caused by the overproduction of oil by the sebaceous glands. Dandruff shows up as white flakes of dry skin on the scalp while babies three months and younger often get cradle cap: crusty yellow or brown scales on their scalp. It usually goes away before they're a year old, although it can come back when they reach puberty. Sometimes, seborrheic dermatitis will clear up by itself. More often, it's a lifelong issue that clears and flares. It can last for years at a time, but you can control it with good skin care and specially formulated shampoos for dandruff.

Although it is itchy and uncomfortable, in most cases, dermatitis is not serious. However, if you begin to have difficulty breathing or swallowing, your heart rate speeds up and you notice swelling at the site of the irritation, you may be having a severe allergic reaction to something. In this instance, get medical help immediately.

April 12, 2016 by Blue Lizard Staff
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