Allergic reactions of the skin are very common. Everyone has probably had some type of allergic skin reaction in their lifetime. Most are mild and go away on their own. However, some can be chronic needing the help of a dermatologist. Allergic reactions often present with red, itchy patches. They can be flat but are often raised—especially if the area was scratched. Diffuse, small bumps may be present.
The three major types of allergic skin reactions are eczema, contact dermatitis and hives/angioedema.
Eczema can be caused by dry, cracking skin from environmental exposure or a genetic disruption in the barrier mechanism of the skin.
Contact dermatitis results from direct contact to an irritant substance. Some common examples are soaps and plants. Lastly, hives and angioedema cause widespread swelling of the skin on the body and face, respectively.
Angioedema tends to involve deeper layers of the tissue of the face, hands and feet and can result in so much swelling that the eyes can be swollen shut or a swollen tongue can impede the airway. Depending on the location, severity, and chronicity, treatment consists of anti-histamines, topical and oral steroids, as well as avoidance of offending agents.
Hives, medically known as urticaria, is a skin reaction driven by the immune system in response to a specific stimulus. It is characterized by the sudden appearance of swollen bumps or patches on the body or face that is often widespread and can be associated with itching or a burning sensation.
There are many reasons that cause the immune system to mount this response including allergies, autoimmune, cold temperatures, atopic dermatitis, medications, sustained pressure and solar (sun) exposure. Anti-histamines are used to calm the reaction however, elimination/avoidance of the source is the only way to prevent re-occurrences.
From Our Patients
After several years of suffering with a skin condition on my hands, fingers and back, I went to a dermatologist (not Dr. Scheel) about 4 years ago. That doctor spent 5 minutes in the room with me, said it was psoriasis and nothing could be done about it.
I had heard of Dr. Scheel so decide to try a different dermatologist. My 1st exam was 45 minutes, at which time Dr. Scheel checked all of my skin and asked questions about my health and life style, stress level. She suggested doing a test to see if I had allergy or intolerance to 30 different foods, because that can be a cause. After the test results came back, we met again and was told that 5 foods (refined sugar, cows milk, wheat, eggs and oats) were at high levels in my body and that they all can cause inflammation (which psoriasis is).
Within the 1st 2 weeks of my new diet, I noticed that my psoriasis was diminishing and by the 5-month mark, it was virtually gone. Hooray!
While Melasma can be an extremely difficult skin condition to treat and can reoccur at any time – one that I may have to battle with for the rest of my life – I now feel that I have learned enough from Dr. Scheel to not let it get out of control as I allowed it to before.
Thank you Dr. Monica Scheel for taking the time to care and making me feel beautiful again from the inside-out. And thank you for helping me to believe that there is hope for Melasma.