Skin allergies are on the rise, particularly in children.
In a 2014 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), researchers found that 11.6 percent of children under the age of 18 suffered from skin allergies.
And though many skin allergies go away as kids grow up, not all of them do. If you find that your skin is often irritated, red, itchy, or bumpy, it could be that skin allergies are affecting you.
Here are four signs of skin allergies and what you can do about them.
1. Skin Allergy Symptom: Rash
If your skin erupts in a rash, it could be because it came into contact with an allergen. A rash is also called “dermatitis,” which means inflammation of the skin. You may notice redness, swelling, itchiness, pain, slightly raised bumps, irritation, and sometimes, even blisters or patches of raw skin.
Rashes can develop for many reasons. You may have chaffed the area, or it could be that you’re just feeling anxious. But rashes are often caused by exposure to an allergen.
Possible triggers for skin rash include:
- Poison ivy or other plants
- Soap or cleanser
- Chemicals in lotions, sunscreens, fragrances or other personal care products
- Particles in the air, like pollen
- UV rays from the sun
2. Skin Allergy Symptom: Hives
Also called “urticaria,” hives are raised, itchy red welts or bumps that form on the skin in reaction to an allergen. They look and act like rashes, but while other things may cause rashes, allergic triggers almost always are responsible for hives. A rash also creates mainly redness and swelling, whereas hives create prominent raised red bumps or welts.
Hives also cause a lot of itching, making it difficult not to scratch.
Possible triggers for hives include:
- Food allergies
- Insect bites
- Bacterial and viral infections
- Pet dander
- Some plants
3. Skin Allergy Symptom: Eczema
Eczema is a skin condition that usually begins in childhood. Scientists aren’t sure what causes it, but they think that it involves a combination of genes and a trigger. People with eczema usually have an over-reactive immune system that, when triggered by a substance, causes inflammation in the skin.
Symptoms of eczema include red, dry, itchy and painful rashes that can become infected without treatment. Some types of eczema even cause blisters.
If others in your family suffered from eczema, you are more likely to develop it, too. While it begins in childhood, it typically gets better with age, but if you come into contact with an allergic trigger, you could experience it again as an adult.
Some of the most common triggers for allergic eczema (also called contact dermatitis) include:
- Detergents in all sorts of soaps and cleansers
- Metals like chromium, cobalt, and nickel
- Chemicals in hair dye
- Preservatives like formaldehyde
- Antibacterial ointments
- Dust mites
- Pet dander
4. Skin Allergy Symptom: Angioedema
This is just a fancy term for swelling that occurs in the deep layers of the skin. It often occurs in the soft tissues of the body, such as those on the eyelids, mouth, throat, or genitals. Acute or “sudden” angioedema can occur in reaction to allergens present in medications or foods and can be dangerous and even life-threatening, particularly if it affects the throat and makes breathing difficult.
An allergic reaction can cause angioedema, which is essentially a buildup of fluids in the skin. It’s often accompanied by hives and usually comes on fast.
Possible triggers for angioedema include:
- Insect bites
- Some medications (penicillin, aspirin, blood pressure meds)
- Animal dander
- Venom (bee stings)
How to Treat Skin Allergies
The most important thing when it comes to skin allergies is to figure out what’s triggering them. The best way to do that is to see your allergy doctor and allow him or her to test you for various allergens. You can also keep a diary for a couple of weeks to help you trace what may have caused your symptoms.
Keep in mind that allergies can develop at any time, so though your favorite fragrance product may have been fine for the last decade, it could now be causing skin problems. In other words, don’t rule out something you’ve used for years.
The next step is to choose fragrance-free and safe products. Anything that touches your body, including your clothes, jewelry, lotions, ointments, makeup, and more, could be causing a reaction. Go through everything you use daily, including your laundry detergent, and switch from harsh chemical-based products to more natural products that are less likely to bother you.
When your skin does flare up with an allergic reaction, take these steps:
- Don’t scratch! It will make symptoms worse and can cause bleeding and infections.
- Take an over-the-counter antihistamine.
- Use anti-itch creams as needed.
- Try a cold compress or shower to reduce itching and swelling.
- Take an oatmeal bath (oatmeal contains natural anti-itch properties). Colloidal oatmeal comes in a powder and mixes well with water. You can also use our CV Skinlabs products to soothe—they contain gluten-free oats.
- Moisturize your skin—dry skin makes the itching worse. Use a gentle, fragrance-free option. (All of our moisturizers are 100% free of ingredients linked to allergic reactions.)
- If none of these steps help, talk to your dermatologist about other potential treatments.
Do you have skin allergies?
ACAAI. (2018, January 9). Allergy Facts. Retrieved from https://acaai.org/news/facts-statistics/allergies