Sometimes allergies affect the skin. While the symptoms are not life-threatening, they can be quite uncomfortable and even embarrassing. In a blog on our sister practice’s website, “Scratching Out Skin Allergies,” we looked at some of the ways allergens can affect skin: hives (urticaria) and angioedema, eczema (atopic dermatitis) and contact dermatitis. Here we are going to focus on contact dermatitis and what to do if you’re experiencing it.
There are two types of contact dermatitis:
- Irritant contact dermatitis is a non-allergic inflammatory reaction that is a type of injury caused by things that irritate the outer layer of skin, such as chemicals (e.g., detergents or dyes) and environmental factors (e.g., cold weather, airborne substances).
- Allergic contact dermatitis, like respiratory allergies, involves an immune system reaction that manifests on your skin. Common triggers include: cleaning products, topical medications, nickel and fragrances.
Contact dermatitis is easily recognized. The symptoms, per Mayo Clinic, are as follows:
- Red rash or bumps
- Itching, which may be severe
- Dry, cracked, scaly skin, if your condition is chronic
- Blisters, draining fluid and crusting, if your reaction is severe
- Swelling, burning or tenderness
Often the culprit causing contact dermatitis is not as obvious. If you find yourself breaking out in rashes and don’t know why, you should contact a doctor such as the expert physicians at Westwood Ear, Nose and Throat. When you come in for your appointment, we will take the time to sit down with you and thoroughly discuss your medical history and symptoms. Next, we will do a series of tests in order to figure out exactly what your are having the allergic reaction to.
A patch test (contact delayed hypersensitivity allergy test) is the typical diagnostic tool for finding the cause of contact dermatitis. Mayo Clinic describes the process:
During a patch test, small amounts of potential allergens are applied to adhesive patches, which are then placed on your skin [usually on your upper back]. The patches remain on your skin for two days, during which time you’ll need to keep your back dry. Your doctor then checks for a skin reaction under the patches and determines whether further testing is needed. Often, people react to more than one substance.
Once the allergen(s) is determined, our team will work with you to develop an individualized treatment to end your discomfort. Whether it be medication, avoidance of trigger or both, you’ll walk away from dermatitis without a scratch.
Call (888) 230-3715 today to schedule your appointment at one of Westwood’s four conveniently- located offices.