TYPES OF SKIN ALLERGIES

What is allergy?

Our bodies are sensitive to many things and produce different responses when they come in contact with them. For example, when we touch a hot pan we instantly remove our hand from it. This is the body’s response to saving our hand from getting burnt. Similarly, if someone is hypersensitive to some substance (allergens) as soon as it comes in contact with the body, our body considers it as harmful and responds to it (allergic reaction). Allergy is a body’s response to external substances when they come in contact with the body. Example, dust allergy, in which a person starts sneezing rapidly if dust (dust mite) enters the nose. 

Skin allergy 

Skin allergies are very common throughout all the age groups. Skin allergy is a reaction of our skin when a foreign substance comes in contact with it. The reaction may be abrupt and causes irritation on the skin. Hence there is a sudden desire to scratch the skin continuously. 

Symptoms of skin allergies

When allergens (normally harmless substances) come in contact with the body, antibodies are produced by our immune system to tackle them. These antibodies release a chemical called histamine which causes allergy symptoms. Common symptoms are –

  • hives 
  • itching.
  • rash.
  • swelling

Different allergies of skin

Eczema

They are also known as atopic dermatitis. It is a chronic allergy and starts to develop from childhood. The triggers are generally food allergies, asthma and allergic rhinitis. Other triggers can be sweating, dust mites or animal dander. Someone who has eczema, develops a dry, red and itchy skin. If the skin is infected yellowish or transparent liquid can develop under the skin. Eczema is mainly hereditary. 

Hives

They are also known as urticaria. They develop as pale red bumps on the skin and cause itching. They generally develop on face, tongue, throat etc. and can last for hours.

Acute urticaria – It lasts for about 6 weeks. It is caused by infections, internal diseases or insect bites. Certain types of foods such as tomato, milk, fish and even medicines like aspirin or codeine (painkiller) can cause hives to occur.

Chronic urticaria – it lasts for more than six weeks. The symptoms are severe compared to acute urticaria and can affect internal organs such as lungs. Muscle soreness, diarrhea and vomiting are other symptoms. 

Contact Dermatitis

It occurs due to irritation when skin comes in contact with an irritant or allergen. Exposure to soaps, shampoos, detergents or even excessive water can trigger contact dermatitis. Symptoms include blisters, rashes, itching and burning. 

Irritant contact dermatitis – It damages the skin that is being in contact with the irritant and causes greater pain than itching. 

Allergic contact dermatitis – It is caused when the skin comes in contact with cosmetic products or even a plant called urushiol. One type of allergic contact dermatitis is photoallergic contact dermatitis. It is caused when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Applying sunscreens and perfumes can trigger it. 

Dealing with skin allergies

The reason why some people are allergic to some substances and others are not is unclear. Doctors say hereditary can pass on the allergic conditions. There is no specific treatment to stop the skin allergies permanently. However, steps can be taken to avoid them from occurring or minimising them as soon as they occur.

  • Avoid scratching as it increases the pain and spreads the allergy even more in the skin.
  • Avoid exposure to sunlight as it may trigger the symptoms by making the skin dry.
  • Moisturise the skin and take regular baths as it will wash away the allergens that skin has come in contact with.
  • Avoid applying cosmetics or other products that may harm the skin.
  • Avoid eating the food items that may trigger the allergy.

These are general methods to deal with skin allergies. However, it is advised to consult a doctor if the symptoms are long lasting as it may be the sign of chronic skin allergy.

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