Allergies are one of the most common chronic diseases, with more than 50 million US adults suffering from some form of allergic disease every year. In fact, many things can cause allergies, from poison ivy and nickel jewelry to even pet dander and food.
Unfortunately, many of these allergies can result in skin rashes too. These allergic rashes are sometimes very painful, itchy, and frustrating enough to hinder your daily life. Not to mention, many of these rashes can leave disfiguring scars and marks on your skin.
In this article, we will discuss the top three common allergy rashes in detail and even explain how to tell an allergy rash from other skin diseases.
3 Common Allergy Rashes
Although there are hundreds of food substances, germs, and even inanimate objects that can cause allergy rash, we will focus on some of the most common forms of skin rashes in the following sections.
We have discussed their underlying cause, clinical picture, and the treatment of these allergic rashes.
Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, occurs more frequently in children than adults. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI), it affects around 10 to 20% of children in the US, and patients generally have a family history of allergies.
Moreover, eczema is a chronic disease that presents with periodic flare-ups due to some triggers and regresses for some time.
Often, it occurs together with other allergic conditions like asthma and hay fever. What’s more, eczema has a strong association with food allergies, and seasonal allergies can exacerbate many of its symptoms.
Typically, this allergic rash affects the skin on your hands, ankles, feet, wrist joint, neck, upper chest, eyelids, and the insides of your knees and elbows. Besides this, it affects the scalp and face in infancy.
It usually begins before five years of age and can persist well into adulthood.
You can find the following symptoms in affected individuals.
- Extremely dry skin
- Itchiness, especially during the night
- Sensitive skin
- Red to brown colored patches
- Inflamed skin
- Thickened, rough, and scaly skin
- Small, raised vesicles, which ooze clear or yellowish fluid
- Crusting of the affected skin
Notably, people do not experience all the symptoms at the same time. Mild diseases include just one or two of the symptoms mentioned above.
Although there is no complete cure for atopic dermatitis, you can treat the symptoms of such allergy rashes with moisturizers and topical glucocorticoids. The latter is a steroid or an anti-inflammatory agent, which treats your red and inflamed skin.
The best treatment for eczema is to avoid any situation that triggers your allergic rash, from sweat and heat to soaps or dust. Even taking shorter baths and drying yourself gently can relieve the itchiness of your skin.
Allergic Contact Dermatitis
As the name suggests, contact dermatitis occurs when your skin touches an allergen that can trigger an immune response in your body. Some of these triggers include nickel jewelry, cosmetic products, shampoos, poison ivy, latex, preservatives, and even excessive water exposure.
Although the rash is not life-threatening, it is quite uncomfortable and irritating. Moreover, these rashes do not develop right after contact. It may take several days after contact with an allergen for a rash to develop on your skin.
In addition to this, some allergens will not cause allergy rashes until you are exposed to sunlight. In such instances, the disease is known as photoallergic contact dermatitis.
Contact dermatitis presents with the following symptoms, especially in people with sensitive skin.
- Red and inflamed skin
- Mild to severe itchiness
- Vesicles that can ooze fluid and crust
- Dry, scaly skin
- Stinging rash
- Swelling and tenderness
Typically, this allergic rash resolves within two to four weeks after avoiding the trigger. However, if the rash is uncomfortable, painful, and does not improve, your doctor can prescribe you topical or oral steroids.
Besides this, you can relieve your skin rashes using wet compresses, anti-itch creams, and moisturizers.
Hives or urticaria is one of the most common forms of allergy rash that affects nearly 15 to 20% of the population at least once in their life. While acute urticaria resolves within six weeks, chronic hives can last for more than six weeks.
Acute hives can occur due to many factors, including cats, dogs, pollen, foods, medicine, insect bites, and pollen. You can even get an allergic reaction from excessive sweating, tight clothes, emotional stress, and infections. On the other hand, it is much harder to detect the underlying cause of chronic urticaria.
Most often, people with hives are also affected by angioedema or swelling within deeper skin layers. Fortunately, both the conditions are harmless and resolve on their own.
Urticaria is an allergic skin condition that presents with red bumps or welts, varying in size from small spots to larger patches. The other symptoms and clinical picture of hives are listed below.
- Mild to severe itchiness
- Raised spots
- Different shapes like round, worm, ring, or oval
- Blanch or turn white when pressed
These allergy rashes can grow, alter their shape, and even spread to other areas. What’s more, these rashes can appear anywhere on your body.
Although these rashes are mild and mostly disappear within a day, you should seek medical attention if you develop hives around the tongue or neck. Since it is common to have angioedema, swelling around the throat can make it quite difficult to breathe.
The most important treatment for your hives is to avoid the triggering factor of your allergy. Alternatively, you can treat the allergic rash with anti-allergic like antihistamines, dapsone, steroids, and other anti-inflammatory agents.
These medications are quite helpful in reducing the swelling, redness, and itchiness of the welt. Besides this, you should avoid hot water and bathe in cold water to reduce irritation.
Meanwhile, your doctor may prescribe injectable medicine, omalizumab, to treat chronic urticaria.
As mentioned in the article, many factors can cause an allergic skin reaction when your body responds to the allergen. Fortunately, allergy rashes are mostly harmless.
While they are pretty common among the population, most skin rashes resolve on their own with simple home treatments or OTC medication. However, there are times when the symptoms do not improve at all or exacerbate. If that is the case, make sure to seek medical help immediately.