What is Allergic Dermatitis?
|February 21, 2012||Posted by healthsmartmom under Health Issues|
A lot of people have allergies; you may even have one or know someone who has one that’s why you’re reading this. But do you know how allergies work? If you’re like most people, all you know is to avoid the things that cause you an allergic reaction, or remember to take your allergy medicine and all is well. But allergies can be a serious medical condition and so the more you know the better prepared you will be in case of an allergic attack.
Allergies From A Medical Perspective
Allergies are about more than just restrictions; allergies are a serious medical condition that you should not be taken lightly. One type of allergic reaction is a rash, or other skin condition when exposed to an allergen. An allergen is a substance that someone is allergic to. They can be natural (such as pet dander, tree pollen) or manufactured (such as chemicals or medicines).
If the skin condition is caused by something that has touched you, it is called allergic contact dermatitis (or just contact dermatitis.) This is a condition in which you have skin inflammation, usully in the form of a rash or dry skin patch, because of your exposure to an allergen. Wool and chemicals such as those in cleaning solutions and laundry detergent are often allergens for individuals.
Another common type of allergic dermatitis is from exposure to a allergen that is inhaled or absorbed through your skin (without direct contact such as with contact dermatitis). These allergens include weeds, grass, tree pollens, feathers, house dust, and cigarette smoke. Sometimes, your allergic dermatitis can be due to food and pets that you get allergens from.
Symptoms of Allergic Dermatitis
Allergic dermatitis can vary in it’s intensity and in how it presents itself. Sometimes it will simply be a dry scaly patch, similiar to eczema, other times it will appear as a red rash, and in more severe cases it will appear as a blistery rash. In the blistery form, you usually show tiny to large water blisters, swelling and redness on your skin. Your blisters may break, which can form into crusts and scales. If your allergic dermatitis is untreated; your skin may darken, become leathery and later on have cracks. Allergic dermatitis can be difficult to differentiate from other rashes, which makes it difficult if you have a child in daycare, as they will often be sent home for a rash since the dermatitis may mimic contagious rashes.
Causes of Allergic Dermatitis
Substances like alkali, acids, strong soaps, solvents, or detergents do not typically cause allergic dermatitis in most people. These harsh substances, which can create a reaction on most people’s skin, are known as ‘irritants’. Though there are some chemicals that are both allergens and irritants, you usually get allergic contact dermatitis from short contact with common substances that other people don’t have adverse effects with.
You can pinpoint your allergen by consulting a dermatologist. You should discuss the substances that you get in contact with either at home or at work. If you can’t identify the allergen by recreating certain situations, then your dermatologist can perform patch tests on you.
Patch testing is a procedure used to diagnose allergic dermatitis. It is very safe and quick testing procedure, so there isn’t anything to worry about. You will be asked to put a small amount of a suspected allergen to your skin for a limited time, usually up to two days. Substances like nickel, dyes, rubber, poison oak, poison ivy, and other linked plants are relatively common allergens.
Your dermatologist is able to pinpoint your particular allergy based upon your skins reaction to each of the allergens. This will enable you to avoid contact with the allergen or take adequate measures to protect yourself (either through the use of gloves and protective clothing or mediciation). You will also want to ask your dermatologist for recommendations of other-the-counter medications for mild allergic dermatitis attacks such as Zyrtec
Once you know what allergic dermatitis is, you will be able to take a few preventative measures to enable you to continue on with a normal life without that pesky skin rash.
Ask your doctor for their recommendations, but here are some common over-the-counter remedies for allergic dermatitis: