Every year, Americans spend $18 billion for allergy-related ailments. This number, based on data presented by the American College of Allergy, is quite alarming. While this $18 billion spent on said conditions covers allergies from skin contact allergens to drug reactions and everything in between, a sizable portion of this amount is spent on skin allergies.
Many households in the United States spend a portion of their income to treat skin allergies. This can be for their own allergies or those experienced by their children. The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology notes that in 2012, 8.8 million children were recorded to have suffered from skin allergies. This is something to take note of because even if allergic reactions are usually mild, it is still best to visit a physician immediately because some rashes can be early symptoms of more serious ailments. While such instances are rare, it doesn’t hurt to make sure that what you are experiencing or what your child is experiencing is just a common reaction to common skin contact allergens.
Common Skin Contact Allergens and Irritants
Many allergies are caused by fragrances, household cleaners, soap, facial creams, sunscreen, and food. The question is, how do they enter our doors and later on, our system? Most people are busy and examining every product’s chemical composition is next to impossible. If you don’t know which items are causing your rashes, here are some of the most common skin irritants.
Although they are not intended for the skin, chemicals in household cleaners can cause allergic reactions when you are exposed to them. All-purpose cleaners, dishwashing liquids, laundry detergents, toilet disinfectants and the like can cause skin allergies. To ensure that you don’t introduce skin irritants to your skin, wearing gloves when using these products is advised.
Soap is a good way to get rid of oil, germs, and dirt but using it excessively can result in dry skin. Many often overlook this issue, but if the skin is too dry, it can crack and bleed. Donald V. Belsito, MD, a University of Missouri clinical professor of medicine, notes that excessive hand washing is a problem. He adds that since we live in a germaphobic society, we keep using soap without attempting to truly protect our skin.
Facial creams can be effective if they are right for you. However, the ones that sting and burn will likely cause irritation if you continue using them. If you suspect that your current facial cream is irritating your skin, check for preservatives, alpha hydroxyl acids, and ascorbic acid because any of these three can be the culprit.
Rough fabrics can cause atopic dermatitis. This form of eczema involved skin inflammation and red and itchy skin. The National Eczema Association states that 18 million (72%) adults have atopic dermatitis and 9.6 million (13%) children develop it.
If you feel that a certain fabric is irritating your skin, it is best to throw them in the trash. Experts like Belsito suggest that you choose cotton poly fabrics and cotton to avoid skin irritation.
Fabric Softeners and Dryer Sheets
We love the smell of fresh sheets but sometimes, those wonderful fragrances in fabric softeners can cause irritation. If you suspect that your fabric softener is causing allergic reactions, it is time to switch to a fragrance-free product.
Many people have fragrance allergies, but since there are around 5,000 fragrances and many combinations, it can be difficult to determine which fragrance you are allergic to. This is why picking fragrance-free products is always a good move for people with sensitive skin.
Plants are lovely but some of them can cause allergic contact dermatitis. Poison oak, poison sumac, and poison ivy are among the most common plant irritants in the country. They can cause itching and rashes that can last for 5 to 12 days.
Skin Testing for Allergies
Do you want to determine what you are allergic to? To avoid the guesswork, talk to your dermatologist about patch testing.
Patch testing involves testing a range of extracts that can cause allergic reactions. A specialist applies these extracts to the skin and if there is a reaction, they can tell you what you are allergic to.
Allergic Reactions: What to Do
Whenever a certain substance irritates your skin, your immune system reacts by creating antibodies to fight said substances. It can be anything from your food, medication, or the products you use.
While most allergies are mild and can wait, some skin allergies are life-threatening. These rashes are rare but when they happen, it is best to go to the emergency room immediately.
If you are suffering from a mild allergic reaction or have in the past, schedule a consultation with 0ne of our offices to discover what is causing it and how to prevent reactions in the future. If you are currently suffering from a severe allergic reaction, go to the hospital immediately or call 911 for help.