Skin Allergies

Skin Allergy

Allergic skin disease can commonly present as Atopic Dermatitis (eczema), Allergic Contact Dermatitis and as Urticaria (hives) and Angioedema (tissue swelling).

Atopic Dermatitis (atopic eczema) is the most common of all the allergic skin conditions affecting up to one in five infants and some adults. Environmental and/or food allergens can trigger an immune response that causes the skin to be inflamed and together with a damaged skin barrier, perpetuate the disease. Dry skin, itching, skin redness and breakdown are some of the usual symptoms that can progress to infections. This may be stressful for many patients because of other people’s belief of the rash being contagious.

Confirming the diagnosis of eczema is important to identify the correct treatment which can include moisturizers, topical creams, ointments and sometimes antibiotics. Depending on each case, bleach baths and wet wraps can be prescribed. The above management can decrease social challenges in people with eczema due to the belief of others of the rash being contagious.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis

Allergic Contact Dermatitis is an exaggerated response of the immune system when directly exposed to an allergen. The most common ones are nickel in jewelry and balsam of Peru in some foods and cosmetic products. Another example is poison ivy.Our doctors will help you by diagnosing the culprit allergen (by performing patch testing to the most common allergens) and advising how to avoid them to prevent future exposures and skin flare ups. Treatment also includes topical creams and ointments as well as oral medications in severe cases.

Urticaria and Angioedema

Urticaria (hives or welts) are red, itchy, raised areas of the skin that appear on any part of the body. They may occur with angioedema or swelling of the deeper layers of the skin. When these occur in less than 6 weeks, they can be a result of viral infections, drug, food, stinging insect, or contact with environmental allergies. When they occur repeatedly for more than 6 weeks, they can be related to physical triggers (such as heat, cold, pressure, or sunlight), autoimmune problems (such as thyroid disorder), or sometimes to unidentifiable causes.

Angioedema that does not occur with urticaria is usually non-allergic in nature. It can be due to medication use (most commonly involved are the angiotensin-converting-enzyme-inhibitor medications for blood pressure), or to a familial condition called hereditary angioedema, or may be acquired secondary to underlying blood disorders.

Our doctors will guide you in identifying the cause of your urticaria/angioedema. They will obtain a thorough medical history and determine the most cost effective tests for you. They will provide treatment plans to maximize control of your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Patients with both urticaria and angioedema who fail standard therapy may be offered more advanced medications such as immunosuppressive drugs or omalizumab. Patients with hereditary and acquired angioedema are treated with special medications allergists are trained to use.

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