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Dr. Rowe's Allergy and Asthma Blog

Allergic Skin Conditions: All that Itches is not Equal

If you have red, bumpy, scaly, itchy or swollen skin, you may have a skin allergy.  There are many types of allergic skin conditions, often called by different names, which can lead to confusion. 

An experienced allergist has years of advanced training and expertise to determine which condition you have and how to develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Hives and Angioedema

Hives are red, itchy, raised areas of the skin. These spots differ in size and shape and may appear anywhere on your body. While related to hives, angioedema is a swelling that affects the deeper layers of the skin. It is usually not red or itchy, but feels like a burning or tingling in the area involved.  It typically involves the eyelids, lips, tongue, hands or feet. Angioedema may occur with hives or on its own.

A new onset of hives usually disappears by itself within a few days or weeks.  Chronic hives have symptoms that may come and go for several months or years.  If the cause can be identified, the trigger should be avoided.  Although the majority of chronic cases are not directly related to allergy, your allergist can offer the greatest assistance in managing these conditions.

Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)

Atopic dermatitis (eczema) is a scaly, itchy rash that often affects the face, elbows and knees. It often begins in infancy or early childhood.  Although is may occur with food allergy, allergic rhinitis (hay fever), or asthma, each condition may have different triggers.

Reducing the itch is an important facet of treatment.  Scratching or rubbing may lead to increased itching. Applying cold compresses and creams or ointments may be helpful.  Antihistamines are often recommended to help relieve the itchiness.  

Contact Dermatitis

When certain substances come into contact with your skin, they may cause a rash called contact dermatitis.  A longer or stronger contact with the substance usually leads to a more severe reaction.  Plant oils, nickel, perfumes, dyes, rubber (latex) products, and cosmetics are common causes.

Treatment involves avoidance of the offending substance.  Cold soaks and compresses can offer temporary relief.  Topical corticosteroid creams may be prescribed.

By visiting Dr. Rowe, your allergist, you can expect an accurate diagnosis, a treatment plan that works, and educational information to help you manage your skin condition and feel better soon.

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