Three types of skin rashes generally fall into the category of allergic disease: hives, atopic dermatitis (allergic eczema) and contact dermatitis.
Hives appear as itchy red raised welts and are often the result of an allergic reaction to a food, drug or environmental exposure. They also can occur as a result of a viral illness or exposure to a temperature extreme or pressure on the skin. Through careful history taking and appropriate skin testing we can determine what may be causing your hives and what steps can be taken to control them.
Atopic dermatitis can affect persons of all ages but is usually most problematic in young children. Red itchy scaly skin is most often found in the skin creases but can appear on other parts of the body. Excessive scratching can lead to bleeding and skin infection. Although the fundamental defect is the skin’s inability to retain moisture, both food and environmental exposures can contribute to the inflammation. Poorly controlled atopic dermatitis can adversely affect one’s sleep, self-image and overall quality of life. At this office we can determine comprehensive strategies to treat this multifaceted problem by identifying its triggers, relieving its discomfort and minimizing its recurrences.
Contact dermatitis may appear similar to atopic dermatitis but is solely the result of direct skin contact with an allergic substance. While most persons are familiar with and experience a reaction to poison ivy, others can react to components of skin care products such soaps, shampoos and hair dyes, substances in the home such as jewelry, clothing and cleaning fluids, and chemicals at the workplace. In this instance a special type of skin testing called patch testing can be performed. Adhesive test strips containing small amounts of suspected allergens are placed on the upper back for a period of 48 hours, and the patient is asked to return to the office 24 hours after they are removed. Just like the delayed rash that follows poison ivy exposure, delayed reactions during patch testing indicate the presence of an allergy, and avoidance of those substances should lead to the resolution of this skin condition.