A Look At What Causes Skin Allergies And How They Might Be Treated

Posted on: 1 October 2018

Allergies often manifest as skin rashes because your skin is in constant contact with the world around you. However, you can also develop a rash from something you eat or medications you take. This makes it more difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of the rash when you develop one. Seeing an allergy specialist for testing is the best way to find out what causes your rashes so that you know what things you should avoid. Here's a look at some common causes of skin allergies, and how an allergist tests and treats you for them.

What Causes Skin Allergies?

You can be allergic to just about anything in your environment, but there are a few common allergens to suspect. Poison ivy causes an allergic reaction in many people, and there are other common plants that might trigger your allergies as well. Nickle is another allergen to consider if you develop a rash around your wrist when you wear a watch or around your neck when you wear a necklace. Nickle is a common metal used in jewelry, so you may be exposed to it frequently.

Latex is also a possible allergen. If you need to wear gloves at work, your hands may have frequent rashes if the gloves are made of latex. Latex is also used in clothing, and that can trigger itching and rashes in areas around waistbands. Other less obvious sources of skin allergies include things that float through the air such as pollen and pet dander. You might be allergic to laundry soap, perfume, shampoo, or lotion.

Food allergies can also trigger rashes and hives when you eat the offending food. While skin allergies are often a nuisance due to their itching and their effect on your appearance, they can sometimes pose a serious threat to your health if the allergic reaction causes shock. Therefore, it's a good idea to learn what causes your symptoms so you can manage your allergies better.

How An Allergist Tests For Skin Allergies

You may undergo routine testing that applies the most common allergens to your skin to check for a reaction. This may be done with scratch testing or patch testing. Your skin is exposed to a wide variety of substances to help narrow down those that cause your reaction. Your allergist might further refine the test by adding substances that you come into contact with often. In addition to testing allergens on your skin, determining your allergens may require some sleuthing if the cause is something you take internally such as a medication or certain foods or food additives.

When you know what you're allergic to, you can avoid the allergen if at all possible. This is easy to do with something like poison ivy, but it is more difficult when you're allergic to several things or allergic to pollen that is impossible to avoid when you go outdoors. You may need treatment to help control and manage your symptoms.

How Skin Allergies Are Treated

Treatments for skin allergies vary according to your specific needs. You might need to take allergy medication or have allergy shots to reduce the frequency and severity of your symptoms. Your allergist can also suggest treatments such as topical creams and soaks that relieve swelling, itching, and discomfort. Lifestyle changes might help as well such as avoiding the sun, changing your diet to avoid allergens, and changing the cleaning products and personal care items you use.

Allergies can produce a number of different symptoms, but when they trigger rashes or hives, it can be embarrassing. Rashes on your arms or face can be seen easily and cause social anxiety. The professionals at a medical office like The Regional Allergy Asthma & Immunology Center, PC can help control your outbreaks through preventative measures and treatments, so your skin allergies aren't a constant source of discomfort and embarrassment.