Patient Education

Skin Allergies

Skin allergies occur when the skin becomes inflamed and irritated from exposure to or contact with a particular substance. The two types of contact dermatitis, or skin allergies, are irritant dermatitis, which is caused by a non-allergic reaction to an irritating substance, and allergic dermatitis, which is caused by an allergic reaction or sensitivity developing from an irritating substance.

Irritant dermatitis can result from prolonged exposure to, contact with, or improper use of an alkaline or acid substance. Some common substances that trigger irritant dermatitis are soaps, detergents, pesticides, chemicals, rubber materials, and certain hair products. Even overexposure to hot water can cause this type of skin allergy.

Allergic dermatitis results from an allergic reaction or sensitivity to a particular substance. It can be chronic or develop with repeated exposure to the allergen over time. Common allergic dermatitis triggers are adhesive materials, skin antibiotics, personal hygiene and cosmetic products, fragrances, fabrics, metals, poisonous plants, rubber, and latex. Airborne allergens can also cause allergic dermatitis.

Symptoms of contact dermatitis commonly crop up on the hands, face, neck, and scalp, as well as other areas of skin that have been exposed to the irritant. The skin may have patches or areas inflamed with redness and rashes, accompanied by itching and/ or burning. It may be warm to the touch, itchy, scaly, and crusty. Upon contact with a known irritant, the exposed area of skin should be washed and rinsed thoroughly to get rid of the potential allergen.

Treatments to provide relief of contact dermatitis include emollients for sensitive skin, topical steroid skin creams, antibiotic ointments, or even prescriptions. Always consult a doctor before using any type of medication. Doctors can also test patients to identify trigger allergens if chronic contact dermatitis is a problem.

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