Your Ultimate Guide To Skin Allergies


What Is Skin Allergy?

Skin allergy is when the skin comes in contact with a certain allergen or irritant. These are the things that are usually harmless but your body thinks that these are dangerous, and triggers your immune system to release antibodies to fight them. This reaction can cause rashes, bumps, hives, swelling, itching, and inflammation of the skin.

In simpler words, it is your skin reacting to something that it thinks is harmful to you. Allergies can be caused due to different reasons such as:

  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Allergens
  • Irritants 

Skin Allergy Symptoms

The symptoms of the skin allergy can vary depending on the reason behind the reaction and the type of reaction the skin is causing. But the most common allergy symptoms on skin are:

  • Dry skin
  • Itchy skin
  • Blisters
  • Rashes
  • Redness or Purpleness
  • Burning or stinging sensation
  • Hives
  • Inflammation
  • Swelling
  • Flaking and scaling of skin.

Types Of Skin Allergies


Eczema commonly known as ‘Atopic Dermatitis’ is a chronic skin condition. It causes the skin to become red or purple, dry, itchy, inflamed, and irritated. It may also appear as dry patches of rash, and small bumps can form on the skin which may ooze. 

The most common places for eczema to appear are on the front and back of the elbows, knees, ankles, wrists, and neck.

Eczema is more common in children. While eczema in adults is less common it still affects 30% of the population in the United States. 

The exact cause of eczema is still not known but it is believed to be caused by skin barrier dysfunction. The skin is unable to retain moisture and becomes dry, irritated, and itchy. People who have a family history of eczema, asthma, and allergies are more prone to it. The three most common triggers that may cause an eczema flare-up are 

  1. Genetics
  2. Stress
  3. Allergens.

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis as the name itself makes clear it is related to the skin coming in contact with a certain allergen or irritant that causes the skin to become red and itchy. Some other symptoms that may appear are a burning sensation, rashes, blisters, and inflammation. It is one of the common types of eczema. 

Contact dermatitis can be of different kinds but the two most prominent ones are allergic contact dermatitis and irritant contact dermatitis.


With allergic contact dermatitis, the skin comes in contact with something you become allergic to such as nickel, metals, or poison ivy. The body then becomes sensitized, and when re-exposed to that same allergen the immune system releases a certain type of T-cells that causes the itchy bumps on the skin to appear–often days later. This sensitization is an important factor that distinguishes allergic contact dermatitis with irritant contact dermatitis.


Irritant contact dermatitis is when the skin becomes irritated by certain substances such as chemicals in soaps, detergents, and perfumes. It damages the outer protective layer of the skin, causing it to become dry, and red, and blisters may form on the skin.

Sometimes an allergen may not cause a skin reaction until it is exposed to sunlight. This type is known as photoallergic contact dermatitis.  


It is also known as hives. These are the blisters and welts that appear on the skin. This is a skin reaction that is caused when the body’s immune system releases histamine. This may also cause the skin to become itchy and swell. 

Urticaria can be triggered by several factors such as food, medications, infection, or heat. Even though hives can be painful due to the welts and wheals, it is not contagious. With proper care and treatment, one can manage it properly. When this condition lasts for six weeks it is known as acute urticaria but when it persists beyond the six weeks it is known as chronic urticaria. 


Angioedema is caused when there is swelling of the skin’s tissue layer. It usually appears on the face, mouth, eyes, and lips. It looks similar to hives but this swelling is under the skin. It is believed to be caused by an allergic reaction. 

When the immune system reacts to an allergen such as pollen, pet dander, insect bites, or medicine, it releases histamine and other chemicals into the bloodstream. This causes swelling under the skin’s surface. Due to this, the skin becomes irritated and itchy. 

Angioedema has two varieties, if it appears for a shorter time period it is known as acute angioedema but if it persists for a longer time period it is known as chronic angioedema. It can be managed with the help of proper treatment.  

Insect Bites

When an insect stings the immune system reacts to it. This causes the skin to become red, itchy and irritated, and may also cause swelling and fluid-filled blisters. Some people may experience this redness and irritation for a small period of time and in some people a bite can last for many days. 

However, other people who are allergic to insect stings may experience a much stronger immediate potentially life-threatening reaction–this is referred to as anaphylaxis. 

Anaphylaxis after an ant or a wasp bite (for example) can involve any or all of the following: facial swelling and difficulty in breathing, immediate vomiting or diarrhea, or a sudden change in blood pressure that can manifest as being very pale.

If any of those symptoms have occurred with a past reaction to a bite, then one should be promptly evaluated by their healthcare provider. They will likely make a referral to an allergist and even before being seen by the allergy specialist there is a strong possibility there will be a prescription for injectable epinephrine. It is a life-saving medication for this condition. 

How Is Skin Allergy Diagnosed?

There are many causes of skin allergy. This makes it difficult to properly diagnose it on your own. However, a dermatologist can provide you with an accurate diagnosis. The first thing they will do is examine your symptoms and take your and your family’s medical history. If the exact cause is still not diagnosed they may prescribe some skin allergy tests

  • Patch test:

A patch test is helpful if you are experiencing allergic contact dermatitis. In this the skin is exposed to potential allergens, the reaction of the skin helps in deciding the culprit of the allergy. 

  • Skin prick test:

Skin prick test or scratch test is when a small amount of allergen is placed on the skin usually on the arm or back and it is then pricked with a needle. The reaction of the skin clarifies which allergen that is causing the allergy. 

  • Blood test:

Allergies can also be detected in this manner. A small amount of blood is taken and analyzed.

  • Skin Biopsy:

In rare cases, if the cause is not ascertained from doing the above tests, a small sample of the skin is taken, and it is looked at by an experienced pathologist who will analyze the sample under a microscope. 


The treatment of skin allergy depends on the causes of the allergy and/or the type of allergen. Treatment may vary for different skin allergies. But there are a few things that you must do to minimize the effects of the allergy:

  • Keep the affected area clean. Wash it with a mild cleanser daily.
  • Keep your fingernails short and wash your hands before touching the affected area. 
  • Try wearing loose and light clothing to avoid sweating and itching, as it can worsen the condition.
  • Avoid scratching and rubbing the affected area as it can further lead to infections.
  • Use over-the-counter creams to help soothe the itching and moisturize the skin.

Eczema Treatment

Eczema flare-ups can be easily managed by following a proper eczema skincare routine that includes the use of an eczema shampoo and body wash to keep the skin clean. The skin should be cleaned on a daily basis. Remember to avoid use of hot water for washing the affected area–instead use lukewarm water. 

The next important step in the skincare routine is to moisturize. Eczema makes the skin become dry. Which is why it should be moisturized at least twice daily with an eczema cream. It is essential to moisturize eczema-prone skin after a bath. 

Treating Contact Dermatitis

In order to manage allergic contact dermatitis it is essential to know the allergen that is causing the skin allergy. Once it is identified it is best to avoid it. But in any case if you still come in contact with the allergen then it can be treated with the help of OTC anti-allergy cream that contains hydrocortisone. Remember to keep your skin moisturized with a moisturizing cream, that can soothe the skin itching and irritation and helps in restoring the skin barrier. 

If OTC products are not relieving your allergy symptoms and your condition is getting worse it is best to consult a dermatologist. They may carefully examine the root cause of your allergy and provide you with a proper treatment plan. Specially for hives, angioedema, and insect bites they may prescribe antihistamine, topical and oral steroids to relieve the symptoms.  


In conclusion, skin allergy is the reaction of our body’s immune system to any allergen or irritant. There are several reasons that may be causing it such as eczema, hives, insect bites, and contact dermatitis. The treatment of skin allergy depends on the factor that is causing it. Itching, inflammation and dry skin are common symptoms of skin allergies. 

Happy Dr. Eddie’s Happy Cappy  Moisturizing Cream & Daily Eczema Cleanser can help soothe dry, itchy irritated skin. These products contains ingredients like oatmeal extract, licorice root extract, aloe vera, provitamin B5, and hyaluronic acid that draw moisture into dry skin and soothe irritation caused by different skin conditions. 


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Dr. Eddie Valenzuela is an award winning pediatrician and the founder and CEO of Pediatric Solutions, LLC.

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What does skin allergy look like?

Skin allergies may vary in appearance depending on the severity of the condition but some of the most common symptoms are blisters, hives, rashes, redness, swelling, inflammation and flaking of the skin.

How to relieve itching from skin allergy?

The best way to relieve itching from skin allergy is by keeping the skin moisturized with an anti-allergy cream that is formulated to soothe itching and irritation of the skin. You can also try cold compress or wet wrap therapy to ease the itching. 

Which is the best allergy test?

There is no specific allergy test that is best. Because each test is conducted depending on the condition. A patch test is most useful in determining what ingredient in commonly used household products or cosmetics is causing allergy. A skin prick test or blood testing is great for finding foods or environmental allergens that are causing skin allergy.  Skin biopsy may also be used in rare cases. 

What causes skin allergy?

Skin allergies can be caused due to many reasons, but it develops when the skin comes in contact with a certain allergen or irritant such as metal, poison ivy, medication, food, or chemicals in beauty products.

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