Skin Allergies

Skin allergies are something that I have personal experience with.

One day as I strolled into the weekly team meeting, my boss looked at me and said, "What happened to your face?" I had broken out in a rash with hives. While some redness was on my hands, the most severe reaction was on my face.

Turned out, the cleaners had used something new to clean my office furniture. I never did find out exactly what it was that they used. But in future, my office was cleaned with hypoallergenic cleaners!

After travelling to the hospital and being filled full of antihistamine, I was told to go home and buy a common antihistamine in an over-the-counter (OTC) dosage. I was also told that if I didn't take it for at least a week to 10 days the rash and hives would recur.

I forgot once to continue my treatment. The hives came back. After that, I took my oral antihistamine faithfully for a full week.
So, what had happened to me? I had a classic case of "allergic contact dermatitis". Allergic contact dermatitis occurs when your skin comes in contact with an allergen that your skin is sensitive or allergic to. The reaction usually appears within 48 hours after the initial exposure to the allergen. Skin allergy symptoms that are commonly seen include the following: redness, swelling, blistering, itching and weeping. The allergen can be a substance in a product that you have used for many years; it does not have to be a new product. And because it can take up to 48 hours to appear, it can be very difficult to isolate what caused the reaction.

Allergic contact dermatitis occurs more commonly in adults. Not all allergic contact dermatitis results in hives. The most common types of allergic contact dermatitis are actually allergy to poison ivy and poison oak! You won't get an itchy reaction to either poison ivy or poison oak, unless you are allergic to it (most of us are).

Many people believe that you cannot be allergic to a product that you have used everyday for many years. This is not true. At any time your skin can become allergic to one of the specific substances in the product, even though you have used it for a long time.

Often, with skin allergies, a rash may break out on your face even though an allergen did not directly come in contact with your face. If you get something on your hands that you are allergic to and then touch your face, the allergen can cause a reaction on the face even though there is no reaction on your hands. This is exactly what happened to me. I had touched the surface of my desk and then touched my face. But, it was only my face that had a severe reaction. This is because the skin on our hands is thicker than that of the face.

If this happens to you, what do you do? You have to discontinue all products that you have been using on the exposed area and only use the treatment your physician or dermatologist has prescribed for you. This could be something you have to take internally, like an oral antihistamine, or could be a cortisone ointment preparation.

eczema can also be caused by an allergic reaction. Your best bet for treating eczema is topical solutions. Hives on the other hand may require oral antihistamines; as my skin allergy reaction did.

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