Skin allergies occur when the skin comes in contact with a substance that irritates the body, causing an inflammation response. In medicine, this is referred to as contact dermatitis. There are two types of skin allergy reactions:
irritant contact dermatitis, which is a reaction to strong cleaners, solvents or other chemicals
allergic contact dermatitis, where the body reacts to an allergy trigger
Irritant dermatitis can affect people who aren’t normally prone to allergy sensitivity, sometimes affecting people at home (detergents, soaps, dyes, fragrances) or at work (cleaning chemicals, sprays, paint, synthetic materials, etc.). It can flare up suddenly and clear up, or linger as a chronic condition due to consistent exposure.
In cases of allergic dermatitis, the individual has a sensitivity or allergy to a specific substance that will consistently cause a reaction. These substances may be plant-based (poisonous plants, pollen, or food products), medications, fragrances, latex or rubber products, and nickel, a metal used in the production of many products we use daily.
People with either type of skin allergy report red, inflamed patches of skin, rashes, hives, and itchiness. In irritant dermatitis, the affected skin can be washed to remove the allergen. Treatment for skin allergies involves keeping the skin moist, and using prescription topical steroid ointments.