Get Relief for Your Itchy Skin in Salt Lake City, UT
Swinyer-Woseth Dermatology Can Diagnose Your Itchy Skin
If you’re a Salt Lake City, UT resident dealing with rashes and itchy skin that you believe could be linked to a skin allergy, Swinyer-Woseth Dermatology can give you the relief you need and deserve. Keep reading to learn more about the different types of skin allergies and how our dermatology services can help you look and feel your best.
What Is A Skin Allergy?
A skin allergy is the immune system‘s reaction to something, usually harmless, that has irritated the skin. This is also known as an allergic reaction. An allergic reaction can cause rashes, itchy skin, burning, red dots on the skin, and swelling. Additionally, many different allergens can cause these types of responses. The most common types of skin allergies include the following:
- Atopic dermatitis – More commonly knowns as eczema, this is the most common skin condition, especially in children. Eczema causes the skin to become easily irritated, itchy, and dry. This type of skin allergy is linked to both environmental and genetic factors and is connected to food allergies, seasonal allergies, and asthma. Avoiding certain substances – including some foods, soaps, and lotions, as well as cold and dry air – can help mitigate any flare-ups. Keeping your stress levels in check is another great way to combat the adverse effects of this skin condition.
- Allergic contact dermatitis – This reaction follows direct contact with an allergen of some type. The most common symptom of allergic contact dermatitis is red dots on the skin, where it came into contact with an irritant. The culprits commonly associated with these rashes include jewelry, cosmetics, fragrances, soaps, and, most notably, poison ivy. Poison ivy is covered with an oily coating that, when it comes into contact with the skin, will cause an allergic reaction resulting in pruritus (itchy skin) and rashes.
- Urticaria – Also known as hives, characteristics of this condition include raised bumps on the skin that form due to some type of allergic reaction. These bumps are known as welts or wheals and are a result of histamine that the body releases in response to an allergen. Hives are most commonly caused by foods but can also be caused by bug bites, latex, medicine, or infections.
- Angioedema – Often associated with hives, angioedema is an allergic reaction that causes deep swelling within the skin. It most commonly happens in places with soft tissue, like the lips, eyelids, throat, or genitals. This condition is frequently caused by an allergic reaction to medications or food.
- Hereditary angioedema (HAE) – HAE is a rare but severe genetic condition that causes swelling in various parts of the body, including the hands, feet, face, intestinal wall, and airways. This specific skin allergy does not respond to protocol treatments, like antihistamines or adrenaline, so it is imperative to see a specialist when dealing with this type of hereditary skin condition.
Additionally, many people develop allergic reactions to things in the air that settle on their skin, including pollen, powders, chemical sprays, fibers, or cigarette smoke. This type of allergic reaction is known as airborne contact dermatitis, but since it looks nearly identical to the other types of skin reactions, it is difficult to diagnose. With that being said, if you’re an individual experiencing frequent rash outbreaks or itchy skin, you must pay close attention to your day-to-day habits and surroundings to pinpoint and avoid any triggers. This way, we can better understand what is causing your symptoms, and have a better chance of treating the root cause of your skin allergy.
What Are the Symptoms Associated with Skin Allergies?
When it comes to skin allergies, the symptoms vary. This is because different reactions will often exhibit different symptoms. We’ll break it down by the allergic skin condition type:
- Eczema – These symptoms are described as itchy, scaly, red rashes commonly located on the face, hands, elbows, and knees. Eczema has also been known to seep clear fluid.
- Allergic contact dermatitis – With allergic contact dermatitis, people will often experience rashes that are itchy and painful. Symptoms include raised red dots on the skin as well as blisters. The reaction may happen right away or it could happen up to 48 hours after your skin was exposed to whatever caused the reaction.
- Hives – This type of skin allergy will show symptoms like raised, itchy bumps that will often be tender to the touch. Hives are a sign of a potentially-serious allergic reaction and should be examined by a medical professional right away.
- Angioedema – Angioedema is characterized by swelling beneath the skin. Though most symptoms are less severe, like swelling around the eyes and mouth, this condition can also take place within the throat. This can be very serious because the swelling can make it difficult to breathe.
These symptoms often start mildly but may worsen the more you come into contact with whatever allergen is causing you to react. Mild allergic reactions are often characterized by itchy eyes, hives, itchy skin, nasal congestion, rashes, and a scratchy throat. In contrast, severe symptoms will frequently involve abdominal pain, chest pain, diarrhea, dizziness, nausea, difficulty breathing, and even unconsciousness.
What Causes Skin Allergies?
To put it simply, your immune system is responsible for defending the body against bacteria and viruses. In some cases, however, the immune system will also work to protect itself against certain substances that don’t necessarily pose a threat to the human body. These substances, or allergens, can be inhaled, touched, or eaten, and it is estimated that at least 50 million people in the U.S. suffer from some type of allergic skin condition. The truth is, we do not know why some people develop skin allergies. The actual cause of a skin allergy truly depends on both the condition and the allergen itself. We do, however, know that you’re more likely to acquire specific skin allergies if you already have skin conditions, like eczema. After years of studying and treating these types of allergic reactions, we can conclude that some of the most common causes of skin allergies are caused by the following:
- Bug sprays
- Cleaning products
- Certain plants
In some cases, it can take at least ten days to become sensitive to something after being in contact with it. You may even be able to touch something for years before actually having a reaction!
When You Should See A Doctor
As seasoned dermatologists, the team at Swinyer-Woseth Dermatology recommends visiting our clinic no matter how mild or severe your skin allergy. The best way to combat these types of skin conditions is to be proactive so we can set up a plan for prevention. Though often these types of skin conditions are harmless, they can also indicate signs of severe allergic reactions. We especially implore patients to reach out to us if they need assistance with the following:
- Controlling eczema symptoms
- An infected-looking rash that is bleeding or has yellow pus coming from it
- Determining if you have a specific allergy that you did not have previously
- A skin rash that has not gotten better or gone away after 2-3 weeks
Additionally, if you suspect you have an allergic reaction that is inhibiting you from breathing, or you have begun to develop hives all over your body, call 911 or go to the emergency room immediately.
How to Effectively Test and Diagnose Skin Allergies
To diagnose your skin allergy, our skilled team will inquire about your symptoms and when the rashes and itchy skin began happening. We will then ask you questions regarding your medical and family history, and examine your skin, eyes, nose, throat, and chest to check for any signs of an allergy. Additionally, we will often recommend different types of allergy testing. These tests are put in place to help us identify how this reaction may have manifested. They include:
- Skin prick test – If we suspect that you are allergic to something in particular, we may try to put a bit of it on your skin and then lightly scratch the area. If your body reacts, you will usually develop a rash, itchy skin, or redness within 15 minutes. This suggests an allergy, especially if a large hive develops. Though useful in some instances, a prick test is only one piece to the puzzle, as your skin can become irritated by something to which it is not allergic.
- Intradermal skin test – This is a test done under the skin and is used if the skin prick did not cause a reaction even though we suspect you have an allergy. For this test, we will inject some of the allergens into your skin and then check the response after a certain period of time.
- Blood test (IgE) – For this test, we will take a sample of your blood and send it to the lab. The lab will insert the suspected allergen into your blood and check for IgE, which is what your blood makes to attack allergens. Though this test is not one on which we solely rely due to the prevalence of false positives, it can have some reliable insights.
- Challenge test – While in our clinic and under our watchful care, we will have you inhale or eat a small amount of an allergen to see if your body reacts in any way. We will be with you every step of the way to ensure everything goes smoothly and to help in the unlikely event of a life-threatening reaction. This test is most commonly conducted to detect allergic reactions caused by food or medicine.
- Patch test – This is a test used to check for allergic contact dermatitis. During this process, we will place a small amount of allergen on your skin, cover it with a bandage, and let it sit for 2 to 4 days. After this period, we will have a follow-up appointment to check for any signs of an allergic reaction, as there will usually be a rash under the bandage.
Treating Skin Allergies
Treatment for skin allergies varies depending on the problem and allergen, but will typically include completely avoiding the allergen, if it is known, and using medicines, creams, or other strategies to relieve pain, swelling, or itchy skin. Below, we have listed some recommendations for treating each of the types of allergic reactions:
- Avoid scratching, scrubbing, or rubbing the skin.
- Moisturize the skin several times throughout the day with ointment or lotion that does not contain any alcohol, fragrances, or dyes. We recommend applying your moisturizer as soon as you get out of the bath or shower, as it will better absorb into damp skin.
- Avoid clothes or products that are made of wool or lanolin.
- Use gentle soaps and shampoos.
- Try to take short baths or showers, and bathe in water that is lukewarm rather than hot. Hot water is harsh on the skin, whether you have a skin condition or not.
Hives and Angioedema
- For acute or sudden hives and swelling, an antihistamine can halt the allergic reaction.
- If you know the substance to which you have allergic reactions, avoid the item or carry an EpiPen.
- If you have chronic or ongoing hives and swelling, try to keep your skin cool and avoid tight-fitting clothes.
- Antihistamines are the most common medicines used to treat chronic hives, though the best treatment is to avoid triggers completely. For many people, these triggers include alcohol, aspirin, and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines.
Allergic Contact Dermatitis
- If you come into contact with something you know can cause an allergic reaction, like poison ivy, thoroughly wash your skin with soap and water immediately.
- One of our seasoned dermatologists will provide you with an antihistamine or cortisone to help your rash heal. It will generally take a couple of weeks for your rash to go away completely.
- Calamine lotion and cold compresses can relieve itchy skin and pain caused by inflammation.
- For an all-natural home remedy, you can bathe in a lukewarm oatmeal bath to help soothe your irritated skin.
Though these are all great ways to mitigate symptoms, you should never attempt to get through an allergic reaction on your own. The compassionate staff at Swinyer-Woseth Dermatology can help you get through this challenging time in the most efficient way possible. That’s our promise!
Visit the Dermatology Specialists in Salt Lake City, UT Today!
If you or someone you know is suffering from unexplainable itchy skin or rashes, we implore you to contact Swinyer-Woseth Dermatology right away to schedule an appointment. We are Salt Lake City’s premier choice for comprehensive dermatology services, and we possess the compassion and know-how to relieve you of any of the symptoms you may be experiencing due to an allergic reaction. Do not wait to get the attention you desperately need. We look forward to helping you!
What Makes Us Unique?
- Board Certified Dermatologists
- Member of the American Society for Mohs Surgery
- Skin Cancer Treatments Available
- Skin Care Products Available
- Comfortable and Professional Atmosphere
- Friendly Staff Members
- Cosmetic Services Done by Licensed Providers