What are Skin Allergies?

Mary McMahon

The term “skin allergies” is used to describe reactions which occur in skin which is sensitive to allergens. There are several different kinds of skin allergies, and people can experience the onset of allergies at any age. People with other types of allergies are at increased risk for developing skin allergies, as are people with autoimmune conditions and asthma.

A skin allergy test can be used to determine a medical diagnosis for certain allergens by introducing small samples of the allergens to the skin.
A skin allergy test can be used to determine a medical diagnosis for certain allergens by introducing small samples of the allergens to the skin.

In someone with skin allergies, the affected skin turns dry, rough, and scaly. It may swell into hives, develop a reddish color, or even crack and ooze as a result of irritation. Until the allergen is removed, the skin will get progressively worse, and the patient will usually experience profound discomfort as the skin can be itchy and painful. Skin allergies can show up anywhere on the body, and they are especially common on the face and arms.

With contact dermatitis, rashes often appear in the shape of the objector material that irritated the skin.
With contact dermatitis, rashes often appear in the shape of the objector material that irritated the skin.

Some people have skin allergies in the form of atopic dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis can be caused by exposure to environmental allergens like pet dander along with ingested allergens. It can sometimes be hard to trace the cause of this skin allergy, because the outbreak may occur several hours after exposure. Chronic atopic dermatitis can be a problem for many patients with skin allergies, especially when the allergies are caused by environmental factors, like dust mites or pollen. Recurring bouts of dermatitis can also be a clue that someone is allergic to something, and they should be taken seriously if the patient has no known allergies.

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Babies may be sensitive to harsh detergents and other household substances.
Babies may be sensitive to harsh detergents and other household substances.

Allergic contact dermatitis is a specific type of skin allergy which occurs when someone comes into direct contact with an allergen. For example, someone who is allergic to eggs might experience contact dermatitis after handling eggs while baking a cake. Babies are also prone to developing contact dermatitis around their mouths when they are introduced to new foods. Allergic contact dermatitis is different from irritant contact dermatitis, a skin reaction which occurs when the skin is exposed to an irritant like bleach.

Skin allergies can manifest as atopic dermatitis.
Skin allergies can manifest as atopic dermatitis.

There are a number of techniques which can be used to manage skin allergies. Avoiding the allergen should be done, if possible, and patients can also be given antihistamines to reduce the severity of the allergic reaction. Some patients may pursue allergy shots to reduce their sensitivity, and the outbreaks themselves can be managed with topical creams which soothe the itching and help to resolve the allergic response. People who experience chronic dry, scaly skin as a result of allergies may want to consider using strong moisturizers, which will make their skin feel softer and reduce itching.

Skin allergies may manifest as hives.
Skin allergies may manifest as hives.
Medical professionals allergic to latex must find non-latex gloves.
Medical professionals allergic to latex must find non-latex gloves.
Skin allergies can cause severe burning and itching sensations.
Skin allergies can cause severe burning and itching sensations.
Anti-itch cream can be applied to alleviate the symptoms of hives.
Anti-itch cream can be applied to alleviate the symptoms of hives.
Exposure to pet dander can cause skin reactions in some people.
Exposure to pet dander can cause skin reactions in some people.
Many skin allergies can be alleviated by taking oral antihistamines.
Many skin allergies can be alleviated by taking oral antihistamines.

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Discussion Comments

burcidi

I'm not prone to skin allergies in general, my skin can tolerate most things. The only times I've experienced skin allergy symptoms were due to an insect bite, exposure to carpet mites and tea tree oil. But even these were relatively mild allergies.

When I have an allergic reaction to an insect bite, the skin around the bite becomes very swollen and red. This usually last for a week or more but eventually resolves.

Once, I had a carpet allergy and I developed a rash on my legs because I was sitting on a carpet which wasn't very clean. I think it was from mites. The rash cleared up in a few hours though.

And the only natural oil I'm allergic to is tea tree oil. I used a face wash with it once and my face became, red and itchy. I had never seen anything like that before.

Now that I know what I'm allergic to though, I'm more careful. I try to protect against insects and mites and I don't use anything with tea tree oil.

serenesurface

@turquoise-- I have heard of this condition before. I don't think it's really a skin allergy, but rather a sensitivity to the elements found in the water. It might be due to fluoride or chlorine. But you should speak with you dermatologist to make sure.

turquoise

Is it possible to have a skin allergy to water?

I know it sounds crazy but lately, my skin has been feeling irritated and itchy after showers. It seems like a skin rash due to allergies, I just don't know what's causing it.

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