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
If is was not for Dr Monica Scheel Dermatology Office, I would still not know that I had Melanoma on my leg. The spot was so small that I had not noticed it, and was discovered when I had my full body cancer screen check at Monica’s Office, with their professional and caring dedication to the customers.
I have gone to Marne (mostly in Waimea) for dermatology (checks for skin cancers and suspicious spots). She knows her stuff and cares about a patient's fears and comfort. - Larry C.