Dr. Neeta Ogden has extensive experience in the treatment of allergies that lead to various skin allergy conditions, such as hives, angioedema, eczema, itchy skin, and skin rashes.
Hives, also known by its medical name, urticaria, is a common sign of an allergic reaction. Hives appear as swollen, raised bumps, also known as welts or wheals, on the skin. Hives can occur anywhere on the body and cause itching, stinging, or burning. They are most often caused by an allergic reaction.
Typically hives can last for a few hours up to a day before fading away. A severe outbreak of hives can occur when they appear on the tongue or in the throat and interfere with breathing. If this occurs, immediate medical attention should be sought.
Hives can be caused when certain allergens are released into the bloodstream. Common allergens are known to cause hives to include:
- Animal dander, particularly cat dander
- Insect bites or stings
- Allergies to food
- Intense reactions to stress
- Extreme changes in temperature
Angioedema is a swelling that occurs under the skin as a result of an allergic reaction. It often occurs around the eyes or lips and its cause is unknown. It is similar to hives, although hives occur superficially – on the skin. If angioedema occurs in the throat or on the tongue it can interfere with breathing and become a life-threatening event.
Triggers for angioedema can vary from person to person and may include:
- Animal dander
- Insect bites or stings
Angioedema may develop suddenly and may be in addition to hives. Swelling can appear under the skin around the eyes and lips, the hands or feet, and in the mouth or throat. They are typically red, swollen welts that are thick, firm, warm to the touch, and painful.
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is the most common, chronic, and severe form of eczema where the skin becomes dry and itchy. Its most common in infants and young children are typically associated with infections – bacteria, fungi, yeast, and viruses – of the skin. Eczema can appear anywhere on the body but most often on the face, the insides of the arms, and behind the knees. In infants, eczema most commonly occurs on the scalp, knees, elbows, and cheeks.
Common triggers of eczema include:
- Soaps and household cleaners
- Perfumes and other fragrances
- Lotions or detergents
- Animal dander
- Food allergies
- Rubber allergies
- Extreme temperatures
- Environmental allergies
Eczema looks and feels different for everyone. Usually, it appears as a red rash on the skin, and can include the following symptoms:
- Crusty upraised patches
- Oozing blisters
- Dry or scaly skin
- Itchy skin
- Discoloration of the skin
Itchy skin can be caused by allergies, insect bites, dry skin, or illness. It’s usually triggered by a chemical in the body, histamine, which is part of the immune system. Histamine causes the itch and redness you see in response to an allergic reaction.
There are several types of itches and are categorized as follows:
- Pruriceptive itch, caused by an allergic reaction, inflammation, dryness, or other skin damage
- Neuropathic itch is caused by damage to the nervous system
- Neurogenic itch is seen in chronic liver and kidney disease
- Psychogenic itch is caused by a response to serotonin and norepinephrine
Rashes, also known as dermatitis, are changes in the color or texture of the skin. Rashes may cause the skin to itch, burn, or be uncomfortable. People develop rashes for many different reasons and many of them look the same so the cause of the rash may be difficult to diagnose.
There are many different types of rashes, including:
- Contact Dermatitis
Contact dermatitis is caused by irritation. It could be as a result of interaction with a chemical, allergen, or animal dander. Plants like poison ivy and insect bites can also cause rashes.
- Allergic Rashes
Allergic rashes can be caused by a reaction to ingested allergens. Certain foods and medications can trigger a rash in people that are sensitive.
- Seborrheic Dermatitis
Seborrheic dermatitis is when the skin forms red, scaly, flaking patches. Commonly appearing on the face and on the head, where it is known as dandruff or cradle cap, it can also be seen in the outer ear, on the eyebrows or eyelashes, forehead, sides of the nose, or chest and upper back.
- Viral or Bacterial Skin Conditions
Skin conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis, impetigo, or pityriasis rosea, frequently cause rashes.
- Systemic Diseases
Systemic diseases such as chickenpox, rubella, scarlet fever, and shingles as well as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and syphilis have rashes as one of their symptoms.
- Rashes Caused by the Sun or Heat
Heat rash is characterized by small red spots or bumps which may be itchy. It is a common ailment in infants but can occur in individuals of any age. Heat rash develops when the sweat ducts in the skin become clogged and interfere with the process of perspiration.
Almost all rashes that cause itching can be treated symptomatically with one or more of the following: antihistamines, soothing lotions like Calamine, topical or oral corticosteroids, baths with colloidal oatmeal, moisturizing creams, or cold compresses. Wearing soft, loose clothing and taking over-the-counter pain relievers may also provide relief.