Allergy & Asthma Center, P.C., is an allergy practice based in Eugene, Corvallis, and Roseburg, Oregon.
Our practice includes allergists:
Appointments are available in the following locations in Oregon:
An allergist is a physician trained to diagnose, treat, and manage asthma and allergies, whether they are related to or caused by foods, environmental factors (such as pollen), drugs, or topical substances. Conditions that an allergist commonly treats include the following:
For your information, each month we feature a topic of interest to our readers. Please read our current Topic of the Month below. To read previous articles that we have featured, please visit our Topic of the Month page.
April 2014 Topic of the Month
If you have red, bumpy, scaly, itchy, or swollen skin, is it because of a skin allergy?
There are several types of allergic skin conditions. They are often itchy and red and may appear scaly or swollen. An allergist/immunologist, often referred to as an allergist, is the most qualified physician to diagnose allergic diseases. An allergist can determine which condition you have and develop a treatment plan to help control your symptoms.
While skin allergies are unpleasant and troublesome, there are steps you can take to treat them.
Urticaria (hives) are red, itchy, raised areas of the skin that can range in size and appear anywhere on the body. Most cases of hives are known as acute and go away within a few days or weeks, but some people suffer from chronic hives with symptoms that come and go for several months or years. cases where food or drug allergies are triggers. These hives usually go away in a few days. In cases of chronic hives, people may suffer for many months to years.
Angioedema is a swelling of the deeper layers of the skin that sometimes occurs with hives. Angioedema usually is not red or itchy. The areas often involved are the eyelids, lips, tongue, hands, and feet.
Food or drug reactions are a common cause of acute hives and/or angioedema. Viral or bacterial infections can trigger hives in both adults and children. Hives can also be triggered by physical factors, such as cold, heat, exercise, pressure, and exposure to sunlight.
If the cause of your hives can be identified, you should avoid that trigger. With acute hives, your allergist may prescribe antihistamines to relieve your symptoms. It may take some time for that to happen.
When certain substances come into contact with your skin, they may cause a rash called contact dermatitis. Irritant contact dermatitis is often more painful than itchy and is caused by a substance damaging the part of your skin it comes into contact with. The longer your skin is in contact with the substance or the stronger the substance is, the more severe your reaction will be. These reactions appear most often on the hands and are frequently work related.
Allergic contact dermatitis is best known by the itchy, red, blistered reaction experienced after you touch poison ivy. This allergic reaction is caused by a chemical in the plant called urushiol. You can have the reaction from touching other items the plant has come into contact with. However, once your skin has been washed, you cannot get another reaction from touching the rash or blisters. Allergic contact dermatitis reactions can happen 24 to 48 hours after the contact. Once a reaction starts, it takes 14 to 28 days to go away, even with treatment.
Nickel, perfumes, dyes, rubber (latex) products, and cosmetics also frequently cause allergic contact dermatitis. Some ingredients in medications applied to the skin can cause a reaction, most commonly neomycin, an ingredient in antibiotic creams. For irritant contact dermatitis, you should avoid the substance causing the reaction. You should also avoid spilling chemicals on your skin. Gloves can sometimes be helpful. Since these reactions are nonallergic, avoiding the substance will relieve your symptoms and prevent lasting damage to your skin.
Treatment for allergic contact dermatitis depends on the severity of symptoms. Cold soaks and compresses can offer relief for the acute, early, itchy blistered stage of your rash. Topical corticosteroid creams may also be prescribed. To prevent the reaction from returning, avoid contact with the offending substance. If you and your allergist cannot determine which substance caused the reaction, your allergist may conduct a series of patch tests to help identify it.
A common allergic reaction often affecting the face, elbows, and knees is atopic dermatitis (eczema). This red, scaly, itchy rash is more common in young infants and those who have a personal or family history of allergy.
Common triggers include aeroallergens like cat dander or house dust, overheating or sweating, and contact with irritants like wool or soaps. In older individuals, emotional stress can cause a flare-up. For some patients, usually children, certain foods can also trigger eczema. Skin staph infections can cause a flare-up in children as well. Eczema patients usually have very dry skin and allergic shiners (an extra crease, called a Dennie’s line) across their lower eyelids. They are also more at risk for other skin infections.
Preventing the eczema itch is the main goal of treatment. Do not scratch or rub your rash. Applying cold compresses and creams or ointments is helpful. Also remove from your environment all irritants that aggravate your condition. If a food is identified as the cause, it must be eliminated from your diet.
Topical corticosteroid cream medications and topical calcineurin inhibitors are most effective in treatment the rash. Antihistamines are often recommended to help relieve the itchiness. In severe cases, oral corticosteroids are also prescribed. If a skin staph infection is suspected to be a trigger for your eczema flare-up, antibiotics are often recommended.Reprinted with permission from the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology