Allergies are manifestations of an overactive immune system. In other words, a sensitive immune system reacts abnormally to usually harmless foreign substances. People whose immune systems function normally do not have such reactions to these substances.
- Foods (peanut, milk, soy, fish, wheat, eggs, etc.)
- Insect bites
- Animal dander
The immune system produces so-called antibodies whose purpose is to defend the body from harmful substances, but a sensitive immune system identifies one of the common allergens as harmful and starts proliferating antibodies which can lead to various health issues such as inflammations, sneezing, rashes, swellings, digestive problems, etc. Sometimes, a specific skin allergy may develop and it is characterized by itching, redness, swelling and rash.
- Atopic dermatitis (Eczema) is a condition characterized by the skin that is sensitive to various environmental conditions. It is characterized by itching, rashes, dryness and redness, and it is usually is comorbid with asthma, food allergy or allergic rhinitis. A sensitive immune system plays a great role in developing this disease.
- Allergic Contact dermatitis is an allergy that occurs when the skin comes in direct contact with allergens that may be various. The skin overreacts when it is touched by, for example, nickel, formaldehyde, deodorants, body washes, hair dyes, certain plants, airborne substances, sunscreens etc. The symptoms of this kind of allergy are itchy, red rash, swelling and small bumps on the area of the contact.
- Hives (urticaria) is a condition in which the skin becomes inflamed after the immune system reacts to certain triggers. Histamine released by the immune system causes small blood vessels to dilate which leads to swellings in the skin. Hives can be acute and chronic. Acute hives are characterized by a sudden skin reaction to certain allergy triggers. On the other hand, common triggers are unknown for chronic hives and even allergy tests cannot help.
- Sun allergy (photosensitivity) occurs when the skin is hypersensitive to sunlight. It is characterized by the red, itchy rash that appears on the skin after the exposure to sunlight.
The first step in allergy treatment is prevention and reducing the risk of an allergic reaction. Avoiding allergens implies that it has to be established what kind of allergy a person suffers from and that is done by allergy tests. After allergens and common triggers have been identified, treatment can be prescribed.
Main types of allergy treatment are:
- Antihistamines. They suppress the action of histamine – the substance the body releases in contact with allergens and which is responsible for allergy symptoms.
- Emollients. Those lotions and creams are mainly used in treating eczema. They may contain substances to prevent bacterial and inflammatory reactions.
- Steroids. Although people are not very comfortable with the use of steroids, they are very effective in allergy treatment. For example, even asthma inhalers contain steroids. When it comes to skin allergy, they can reduce inflammation and swelling and they are applied topically – directly on the skin. In severe cases of allergic reactions, steroids may be part of systemic treatment and then they are administered orally, in the form of a tablet.
- Adrenaline. This substance is used in cases of anaphylactic shock which occurs when the body releases large amounts of histamine during an allergic reaction. Too much histamine leads to breathing difficulties and may even cause loss of consciousness. Since this condition can be life-threatening, it is important that the adrenaline is given as soon as possible. People who are at risk of such an allergic reaction always carry an adrenaline auto-injector.
- Antibiotics. Allergy-prone skin tends to be susceptible to infections and antibiotics are used to treat them.
If you suffer from a skin allergy, contact us and have our experienced dermatologists come up with a personalized allergy management plan.