Skin allergy conditions can open up a can of worms if you aren’t prepared to treat them properly. It usually starts like this: the itchiness won’t quit, the redness is getting rouge-ier and a weird patchy blotch is forming. You finally put it together that you have an allergic skin condition. It could be a sudden bout of hives, a food allergy that shows up unexpectedly, a lifelong battle with photosensitivity, or something else. Regardless of what it is, you need to do something about it, right?
Having an allergic skin condition can be extremely uncomfortable and even painful, so knowing your options – and stocking up on solutions before an outbreak – is a great idea. So, what’s out there?
Antihistamines for a Skin Allergy
Many skin allergies come from something called a histamine release. This is what happens: when your body is triggered by an allergen, your immune system releases histamines, which latch onto receptors in your blood vessels. The result is itchiness, redness and swelling. Simple over-the-counter antihistamines prevent histamines from locking onto receptors while blocking them from releasing in the first place.
But histamines can be dangerous when released all at once, creating a potentially more serious situation.
I once broke out in hives – a condition caused by a massive histamine release – during my senior year of college. Overnight, my skin became unbearably itchy and swollen. It was actually very painful. For that, I had to immediately visit my dermatologist and get a shot to block the histamine release. From there, she put me on prescription antihistamines. My experience is an extreme example, and I probably waited too long to head to my doctor.
If I would’ve known what it was and had an OTC medication handy, I doubt my hives would’ve escalated so dramatically. The point? Be prepared with a strong OTC antihistamine so that you don’t wind up in more discomfort waiting for a prescription to kick in. Not fun.
Skin Allergy Topical Solutions
For allergic skin conditions in particular, topical solutions are often your best bet to relieve itchiness and inflammation. Corticosteroids, hydrocortisone, antibiotic ointments and the like can give your skin a break from the discomfort while helping you to refrain from scratching an outbreak. This is important because scratching worsens inflammation and, if you scratch enough to break the skin, you could be at-risk for infection.
Another great way to treat a skin allergy outbreak is with an oatmeal bath. Oatmeal is pretty amazing. It naturally contains a bunch of different chemicals that our skin loves, including: anti-inflammatory substances like phenols, antioxidants, saponins that clean the skin and so much more. Soaking in an oatmeal bath helps soften skin and soothe itchiness.
If you have a skin allergy condition, you may actually need to utilize all three of the above treatment options to experience relief (I know that I had to when I had hives). I also want to stress the importance of taking swift action. Skin allergies can be dangerous. If you have one that doesn’t go away after treating it, see a dermatologist. Don’t wait like I did. It’s very rare, but if an allergy is serious enough, it can cause anaphylaxis – so be prepared and take action quickly if an allergy springs up.