If you experience rashes, swelling or itchiness, this may be caused by an allergic reaction. At Silver Falls Dermatology, our team includes allergists who can effectively treat these symptoms and help you understand your skin allergies. Patients in Oregon and Washington can turn to one of our many convenient locations to find relief from their skin allergy symptoms. 

What are Skin Allergies?

A skin allergy is an irritation in the skin caused by immune system reaction to a substance that is otherwise harmless. Skin allergies may cause hives, itchiness, rashes, bumps or swelling. In some cases, skin allergies may fall into the following categories:

  • Allergic contact dermatitis, in which the skin develops an allergic reaction to a substance or material through direct contact. This typically presents as a rash that may be itchy or painful as well as bumps or blisters. Allergic contact dermatitis symptoms may develop immediately or take up to 48 hours after exposure. 
  • Angioedema, or swelling as a result of an allergic reaction. In some cases, this may include the eyelids swelling shut or the throat swelling. 
  • Atopic dermatitis (eczema), which causes itchy or scaly rashes which are most common on the face, hands, elbows or knees. In some cases, these rashes may also weep clear fluid.
  • Urticaria (hives), which may be raised or flat and typically tender or itchy. Hives can be a sign of a severe allergic reaction. 

Common Allergens 

A very large number of substances may cause skin allergies. Among the most common are irritating cosmetics, personal care products or household cleaning products. In particular, those that contain fragrances or harsher detergents may cause allergic contact dermatitis or trigger eczema. Common allergens including pollen, insect bites or pet dander may also cause skin allergies. Latex and medications can also cause an allergic reaction. Some patients may also experience symptoms due to extreme hot or cold temperatures or sun exposure in rarer cases. 

Skin Allergy Symptoms

Allergies can cause a range of symptoms in the skin. These will vary depending on the type of reaction you are experiencing. Some common symptoms include:

  • Rashes
  • Itching
  • Flaking or scaling
  • Hives
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Blisters
  • Bumps

Allergy Testing 

Your provider may recommend allergy testing to determine your allergens. This will allow you to avoid future reactions. There are several testing options that may be used. 

A skin prick test is one of the most common methods of allergy testing. This involves scratching the skin and placing a small amount of the suspected allergen on the surface. The skin is then monitored for approximately 15 minutes to check for a reaction. If you develop redness, rashes, itching or a hive in the area you are likely to be allergic, though further testing may be necessary to confirm results. 

Intradermal skin tests are also an option, particularly if you are suspected to have an allergy but have not reacted in a skin prick test. This involves making a small injection of the suspected allergen below the skin. 

A blood test may also be suggested. Using this method, a blood sample is sent to a lab to check for reactions to suspected allergens. This test occasionally produces false positives, so it is also used in conjunction with another testing method. 

Finally, challenge tests may be conducted to check for inhalant or food allergies. This involves inhaling or eating small amounts of the allergen and monitoring for a reaction in a controlled environment with a doctor present. 

Allergy Treatment Options 

Several treatment options are available for skin allergies. First, your provider will instruct you to avoid your allergen as much as possible. Topical treatments are often prescribed to help calm symptoms such as rashes or swelling. Corticosteroids are often prescribed for this reason. In cases of more severe swelling, a corticosteroid injection may be recommended. Your provider may also recommend an allergy medication, which may be either a prescription or over-the-counter antihistamine such as Benadryl. Those with severe symptoms may also be instructed to carry an EpiPen in case of emergencies. 

Allergies with long-term symptoms can sometimes be treated using options such as phototherapy. This treatment can be beneficial for atopic dermatitis and relieve redness or rashes for some patients. 

Finally, your provider may recommend professional quality skincare products, especially if your allergies are caused by irritating cleansers, moisturizers or similar products. Professional quality skincare is less likely to cause allergic reactions for those with sensitive skin. 

Schedule an Appointment

To learn more about skin allergies and find an effective treatment, schedule an appointment at Silver Falls Dermatology. Choose from one of our many convenient locations throughout Oregon and Washington. To schedule your first appointment, call your local Silver Falls office. If you have general questions, you can also contact us online.

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