Scratching the Surface on Skin Allergies–Sooo many patients have skin allergy that results in a trip to the allergy office. How do I know if it’s allergy or something else? Do I need a dermatologist? If you’re a physician, please feel free to use the patient information handout here. If you’re a patient, I’ve included a great video on urticaria or hives that you’ll want to check out.
What would cause red, bumpy, scaly, itchy, inflamed/blistered or swollen skin? Dry skin, sunburn or an insect bite may be the cause. Or, you may have a skin allergy. The most common skin allergies include eczema, hives/angioedema and contact dermatitis.
Hives and Angioedema
Hives are red, itchy, raised areas which may be triggered by food, latex or drug allergies. Hives can also result from non-allergic sources like rubbing of the skin, cold, heat, physical exertion or exercise, pressure and sunlight. Hives usually go away within a few days. Chronic hives can linger for months to years, and this is the most common reason for allergy evaluation! Unfortunately, most cases of chronic hives come from the INSIDE, not something you eat or get exposed to outdoors. Don’t believe me?….check out this 5 minute video from Dr Meadows explaining chronic hives in detail. (He is from Alabama and very active with the College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology)
Contact dermatitis is often more painful than itchy. It is characterized by an itchy, red, blistered reaction from poison ivy, nickel, perfumes, dyes, latex products or cosmetics. Some ingredients in medications can cause a reaction, most commonly neomycin, an ingredient in antibiotic creams. Patients will often confuse a skin allergy with contact dermatitis & both conditions are very different from each other.
Allergic contact dermatitis reactions can happen 24 to 48 hours after contact. Once a reaction starts, it takes 14 to 28 days to go away, even with treatment. Skin allergy may occur within 1 hour after exposure. Big difference in your history-taking skills.
Did you know?
• About 27% of children who have food allergies also have eczema or skin allergies.
• Contact dermatitis leads to approximately 5.7 million doctor visits each year.
• More than 3,700 substances have been identified as contact allergens.