The term ‘allergic skin condition’ can sound vague, especially skin we talk a lot about skin conditions like psoriasis and rosacea (which are not related to allergies). But skin allergies affect many people, too, and are slightly different from skin problems, as we often talk about them here.
So what is an allergic skin condition, and how is it different from other skin disorders?
Allergic Skin Condition Symptom Check
First, let’s check out the most common signs of an allergic reaction:
Some of these symptoms sound a lot like other skin conditions; some don’t. Raised bumps, for example, are more indicative of hives than, say, chronically dry skin. The most common forms of skin allergy conditions include hives, eczema (note: this can be triggered by both internal and external conditions), contact dermatitis and angioedema.
Allergic Skin Condition vs. Skin Disorder: Points of Differentiation
The major difference between a skin condition and a skin allergy is the range of causes behind them. Skin conditions are more confined to causes of genetics and weakened skin barriers. Skin allergies, on the other hand, can occur after skin contact with something you are allergic or hypersensitive to, such as cat dander or foods like nuts. The causes are external and can be worsened by internal issues, like an autoimmune disease.
Skin problems like rosacea can be thought of inversely: the causes are internal and are worsened by external factors, like a polluted environment. If you have a skin disorder, you’d go to a dermatologist. If you have an allergy affecting your skin, you’d more likely visit an allergist who can give you tests to determine the allergen(s). You can then do your best to avoid the allergy trigger.
An allergic reaction can be immediate (this usually includes allergens like pollen, certain kinds of food, animal hair and house dust) or come 1-2 days after you initially make contact with the substance – nickel, dyes, poison ivy and perfume all fall under this category. Either way, you’ll know relatively quickly if something has triggered a skin allergy. And whatever triggers an allergic reaction that’s present in your skin often causes other symptoms as well, such as sneezing, watery eyes and a runny nose. To sum it up, you’ll know you’ve had an allergic reaction either one way or another.
Unless an allergen is consistently present, there’s no reason to believe that allergic skin conditions are chronic. Once you remove the allergen, you remove the allergy. For example, let’s say you’re allergic to fragrances. You could live with this allergy for years, unaware of your allergy and perhaps even mistaking it for a skin disorder. Start using fragrance free products, stop exposing yourself to scented skincare, and the allergy is gone. This is also markedly different from skin conditions, which can take years to clear up, if ever.
Stay tuned for upcoming blog posts exploring more of the causes behind, types of and treatment methods for allergic skin conditions. For more information right now, visit the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology here.