Allergic Reactions

 Allergic Reactions

Allergies can be life frightening and provoke severe reactions known as anaphylaxis. It is important to seek immediate medical care if you experience:

  • Difficulty breathing due to swelling in the throat
  • Swollen face and/or eyes
  • Confusion

There are several types of allergic skin conditions. An allergist / immunologist, often referred to as an allergist, has advanced training and expertise to determine which condition you have and develop a treatment plan to help you feel better.

Treatment depends on the severity of the symptoms. Cold soaks and compresses can offer relief for the early, itchy blistered stage of a rash. Topical corticosteroid creams may be prescribed. For severe reactions such as poison ivy, oral prednisone may be prescribed as well.

Contact Dermatitis

This reaction occurs at the contact of the skin with something that creates an allergic reaction. Symptoms usually occurs a few hours later or even weeks later. An inflammation of the skin that produces a red, scaly, itchy rash is known as dermatitis.

The most common signs to Contact Dermatitis are:

  • Itchy skin (often intense)
  • Rash (skin red, swollen, and hot)
  • Excessively dry skin
  • Burning
  • Stinging
  • Hives (round welts on the skin that itch intensely)
  • Fluid-filled blisters
  • Oozing blisters that leave crusts and scales

If you work with substances that caused the rash, you can still avoid a rash. Your dermatologist can recommend ways to work and products to use. More than 80% of people diagnosed with occupational dermatitis successfully manage the condition and recover without any problems.

Cosmetic Allergies

Cosmetic products may contain products that cause allergic reactions. Although a product uses the term “hypoallergenic”, there are no Federal standards or definitions that govern this term. If you think a cosmetic product is causing you an allergic reaction, stop using it. Try other products on small area of the skin before using them on the full face or body.


Hives are welts on the skin that often itch. These welts can appear on any part of the skin. Hives vary in size from as small as a pen tip to as large as a dinner plate. They may connect to form even larger welts.

A hive often goes away in 24 hours or less. New hives may appear as old ones fade, so hives may last for a few days or longer. A bout of hives usually lasts less than 6 weeks. The medical term for hives is urticaria. When large welts occur deeper under the skin, the medical term is angioedema.

Poison Ivy

The first symptom of poisoning is a severe itching of the skin. Later, a red inflammation and a blistering of the skin occur. In severe cases, oozing sores develop. The rash spreads by the poisonous sap (urushiol), not as the result of contamination from sores. The blood vessels develop gaps that leak fluid through the skin, causing blisters and oozing. “Rhus plants(poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac) are the most common cause of allergic contact dermatitis in the US. Rhus plans contain the potent antigen urushiol, which will sensitize 60% to 80% of the persons who are exposed to it.

After the oil has touched the skin, it usually takes some time for it to penetrate and do its damage. Before this happens, it is wise to wash the skin thoroughly several times with plenty of soap and water. Care should be taken not to touch any part of the body, for even tiny amounts of the oil will cause irritation. If poisoning develops, the blisters and red, itching skin may be treated with dressings of calamine lotion, Epsom salts, or bicarbonate of soda. Scientists have developed a vaccine that can be injected or swallowed. But this is effective only if taken before exposure.


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