Skin Allergies Causes, Symptoms, & Treatments in Dallas, Texas
What are skin allergies?
A skin allergy is a reaction that the body has when it comes in contact with a foreign, and usually harmless substance, also known as an allergen. Skin allergies can occur on any area of the body, including the face, arms, and legs, with symptoms ranging in severity, from mild to moderate to severe. There are different types of skin allergies, including eczema, rashes, contact dermatitis, hives, and angioedema. A skin allergy can be caused by different types of allergens, including hair dyes, creams, soaps, and more. In most cases, the skin must make contact with the allergen more than once in order for an allergic reaction to occur, and symptoms can take anywhere from a couple of hours to ten days to appear.
What causes skin allergies?
A skin allergy occurs when the skin makes contact with a harmless foreign substance and mistakenly believes it is under attack. The immune system then deploys antibodies and chemicals to help fight the “invader.” This sequence of events causes the affected areas of skin to break out in an allergic reaction, often causing the skin to become red, itchy, and swollen.
Common allergens that may cause a skin allergy include:
- Pet dander
- Hair dyes
- Nickel-containing jewelry and accessories
- Poison ivy
- Certain foods
- Exposure to hot or cold temperatures
- Certain medications
- Certain soaps, lotions, perfumes, or other fragrance-based products
- Certain makeup products
What are the symptoms of a skin allergy?
Depending on the strength of the allergen, the sensitivity of your immune system, and other factors, symptoms may vary. A skin allergy can affect any area of the body, including the face, arms, and legs.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include:
- Itchy skin
- Burning or stinging of the skin
- Bumpy or raised skin
- Flaky skin
- Cracked skin
How are skin allergies diagnosed?
Skin allergies can be diagnosed by a doctor who will review your medical history and perform a skin allergy test. While reviewing your medical history, your doctor may ask when your symptoms began and if there are any triggers that may have caused the allergic reaction to occur. To perform a skin allergy test, your doctor will either use a patch test, a prick test, or an intradermal test.
A patch test involves your doctor applying controlled levels of various allergens on the skin. You will then visit your doctor within a few days so that your doctor can assess any reactions of the skin. If there is no visible reaction, a prick test may be recommended.
During a prick test, your doctor will gently prick the skin with small traces of various allergens. This is usually done on the back or arms. If an allergic reaction occurs, your doctor can identify what allergen caused the reaction. If the prick test is inconclusive, an intradermal test may be recommended. This test involves your doctor carefully injecting the allergens into deeper layers of the skin. If no reaction occurs, additional tests may be recommended.
What Are the Different Types of Skin Allergies?
While many of the symptoms overlap, there are several types of skin allergies. Some of the most common conditions our board-certified dermatologists treat are:
- Eczema: Also known as atopic dermatitis, this common skin condition isn’t only caused by allergies, but they can trigger flares.
- Allergic contact dermatitis: When your skin comes into direct contact with an allergen, you might notice a bumpy, scaly, or itchy rash at the site. Common triggers of contact dermatitis include poison ivy, pets, household cleaners, or metals like nickel.
- Hives: Also called urticaria, this rash can cause itching, swelling, and redness that appears when the immune system releases histamine. Hives can be triggered by contact with allergens or by non-allergic causes like exercise.
- Swelling: Angioedema is swelling in the deep layers of the skin commonly caused by an allergic reaction to foods or medications.
We can correctly diagnose your skin allergy at Dermatology Treatment and Research Center and create the most effective skin care plan.
Are Skin Allergies Contagious?
Skin allergies typically aren’t contagious. However, a poison oak or poison ivy rash can be transferred if small amounts of the plant oil remain on your clothing, skin, or fingernails. In addition, many contagious skin conditions can look like irritation caused by skin allergies.
If you’re unsure of the cause, scheduling an appointment with one of our board-certified dermatologists, Dr. Ross Radusky or Dr. Clay Cockerell, is the best way to rule out contagious lookalike skin conditions.
How Can I Manage Skin Allergies at Home?
If you have a mild skin allergy or are aware of your contact triggers but can’t always avoid them, treating a skin allergy at home might be sufficient to manage your symptoms.
Some steps to minimize discomfort include:
- Wearing loose clothing with natural fibers like organic cotton
- Applying over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion to decrease itching
- Taking a cool shower or applying a cool compress to reduce swelling
- Soaking in a milk or oatmeal bath to calm the skin
If you’re unable to soothe your skin allergy at home, our providers can recommend stronger treatment options, including prescription antihistamines.
Am I Allergic to My Clothes?
If you notice a rash appears every time you wear your favorite shirt, you could have textile dermatitis. This skin allergy is a form of contact dermatitis where the fibers, resins, chemicals, and dyes in your clothing cause irritation.
Clothing allergies can happen with any fabric, but synthetics are more likely to cause the condition. You can start by swapping out polyester, rayon, spandex, or nylon for breathable natural fabrics like linen, cotton, bamboo, or silk. Wool is a natural fiber exception as it’s often a textile dermatitis culprit.
Is It Possible to Suddenly Develop a Skin Allergy?
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to suddenly develop new allergies in adulthood. Throughout your life, your immune system can change or be overwhelmed by another illness, causing skin allergy symptoms that weren’t present before. If you’ve developed redness, flaking, or swelling out of the blue, our providers might recommend blood work or skin patch tests to diagnose your allergy.
How are skin allergies treated?
Once your doctor has determined the cause of your skin allergy, they can offer various treatments and recommendations to help control and alleviate your symptoms. Treatment options for skin allergies may include:
- Antihistamines or other skin allergy medication
- Topical creams
- Allergy immunotherapy injections
- Clinical trials
If you are experiencing symptoms of skin allergies that are interfering with your quality of life, a consultation with an experienced dermatologist may be the first step towards helping restore the appearance and health of your skin. At Dermatology Treatment and Research Center, our board-certified physicians hold expertise in clinical, cosmetic, and general dermatology and are ready to provide you with high-quality expert care in a friendly and compassionate atmosphere. Call 972.661.2729 or fill out the form on this page to book an appointment.