Why Does Skin Allergy Happen?

Your immune system, which is made up of proteins, special cells, organs and tissues, is responsible for keeping you healthy. Its main task is to defend your body against microorganisms and germs every day. Want to know how it works? When foreign particles, such as allergens, enter your body, your white blood cells send out an antibody called immunoglobulin E to fight off the allergens. This antibody then sends out hormones and chemicals to neutralize the foreign substances.

This is similar when you wonder why skin allergy happens. Skin allergy is the result when your immune system believes that your skin has touched something that is harmful - even though it's not the case most of the time. Read on this article further to know the more triggers that can be related with skin allergy and how to relieve it.

Why Does Skin Allergy Happen?

It can be a bit worrying when your skin develops an allergic reaction to something. Rashes or blisters that appear on your skin may not only be uncomfortable, but they can also be embarrassing especially if they appear in a larger area of your skin.

If you're wondering why skin allergy occurs, below are the common culprits.

  • Gold (gold sodium thiosulfate) - a precious metal that are often found in jewelries
  • Nickel (nickel sulfate hexahydrate) - a kind of metal that you can often find in buttons or clasps on clothing and even on jewelries
  • Thimerosal - a mercury compound used as preservatives in some vaccines and some local antiseptics
  • Balsam of Peru (myroxylon pereirae) - derived from tree resin, this fragrance is often used in skin lotions and perfumes
  • Neomycin sulfate -  topical antibiotic commonly used in ointments and first aid creams, can also be occasionally found in deodorant, cosmetics, pet food and soap.
  • Formaldehyde - preservative found in several uses such as paints, paper products, household cleaners, medications, cosmetic products and fabric finishes.
  • Fragrance mix - group of the eight most common fragrance allergens found in cosmetic products, foods, antiseptics, insecticides, perfumes, soaps and dental products.
  • Cobalt chloride - Metal found in hair dye, medical products, antiperspirant, cobalt blue pigment and objects plated in metal such as buttons, snaps or tools.
  • Quaternium 15 - preservative found in cosmetic products such shampoo, self-tanners, sunscreen and nail polish; can also be found in industrial products such as paints, polishes and waxes.
  • Bacitracin - topical antibiotic
  • Sunlight - Polymorphic Light Eruption results to the appearance of uncomfortable rashes when your skin reacts negatively to UVB and UVA light from the sun.
  • Plants - there are many plants that are the culprit why skin allergy happens, though poison ivy is one of the most common ones.
  • Latex - found in many items such as condoms and rubber gloves.
  • Clothing - there may be certain clothing items that can trigger skin allergy, probably due to the added chemicals to protect the clothes from wrinkling, shrinking and so on.

How to Find Out What You’re Allergic To?

It is important that you seek medical attention as soon as you're exhibiting symptoms of allergy so that your doctor can see what's the cause of allergy. Finding the exact cause can be challenging though since skin tests can only check your skin's sensitivity. These tests can't tell specifically what touched your skin on a specific time and specifically spot that triggered the allergy.

TRUE test, a pre-packaged set of three panels that are stick to your back, is one of the type of test that most doctors use. It is smaller than a dollar bill and has 12 patches of possible allergens sample that you wear for 2 days. Your doctor will then take them off and see if you have developed an allergic reaction. You may be asked to come back though since some symptoms can develop after 10 days.

If TRUE test can't determine why skin allergy happens, your doctor may conduct more patch testing to find out the culprit. He will choose sample of substances that you might contact in home, work or hobbies.

ROAT test is needed as a follow up if you have a mild reaction to the patch test. It's similar to the TRUE test except you do it yourself. You may put your suspected allergen on the same spot for several days to rule out or confirm sensitivity.

How to Relieve Skin Allergies

Symptoms of skin allergy such as itching, redness and swelling may go away without medical treatment. In the meantime, you can do some things to find relief from these symptoms.

1. Home Remedies

  • Stay away from allergens - Avoid being in contact with what triggers your allergy as much as possible.
  • Chill out - use a cool shower or compress to calm your fiery rashes. Pat dry gently and apply some moisturizer.
  • Soak it - calm your inflamed skin by soaking the affected area on water with colloidal oatmeal. Use lukewarm water to avoid dryness and irritation.
  • Wear loose and cool clothing since tight clothing can irritate the skin further.
  • Try damp dressing for severe symptoms. Look for a soft cotton piece of clothing and soak it in water. Then, wring it out and put it on affected areas. Wear something over it that is not too tight but snug.
  • Olive oil - it is rich in vitamin C and has powerful antioxidants that can help repair and heal skin from allergic damage. It can also help reduce itchiness. Apply generous amounts of olive oil over the affected part.
  • Baking Soda - it does not only help skin rash to dry out quickly, but it's also a great help in getting relief from itchiness. It also prevents further skin inflammation. Create a paste by mixing half a teaspoon of baking soda in some water and apply it to the affected area. Leave it on for a few minutes and rinse thoroughly.
  • Add anti-itch cream - relieve itchiness by applying some over-the-counter calamine lotion or hydrocortisone.
  • You can take some over-the-counter antihistamines.
  • If skin bacterial infection is the answer to why skin allergy happens, you can treat this condition with antibiotics.

2. Medical Treatments

 
 
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