Skin inflammation atopic dermatitis and eczema.
Allergic dermatitis (skin inflammation)
One of the most common skin diseases that doctors deal with. Allergic Dermatitis Symptoms can include dryness, itching, redness, crustiness, blisters, watery discharges, cracking and other changes in the normal condition of the skin.
Contact dermatitis (a reaction to something touched)
Irritation and skin inflammation are the most common types of reaction. Much less frequently, an individual’s skin will break out after he or she has eaten something to which he or she is allergic (often referred commonly as allergic rash). In that case, the skin problem is usually called ‘eczema’.
People with allergic dermatitis or eczema simply have hyper-reactive skin, much as people with asthma have hyper-reactive airways.
Exactly how many people have allergic skin problems is unknown because sometimes reactions are so mild that the individuals never seek medical help. But estimates say that somewhere between 1 and 3 per cent of children under age two suffer some degree of dermatitis or eczema.
It’s less common in adults, but by not at all rare. Young or old, the affected person usually comes from a family with a strong history of allergy, or they themselves have hay fever, asthma or some other form of allergy.
To relieve discomfort and speed healing, there are over a dozen natural remedies for skin reactions, from soothing corn-starch baths to applications of zinc oxide past.
Contact (skin) allergies.
Avoiding the allergens is of utmost importance; and not only for the sake of comfort and appearance. Chronic dermatitis and eczema can cause the skin to become permanently discolored and thickened and scratching can lead to infection and scarring.
The most common offenders in contact dermatitis include rubber and plastics, industrial chemicals, applied medications, cosmetics, clothing dyes, costume jewellery, poison ivy and other plants, detergents, insecticides and paints.
People with skin allergy need to be especially wary of topical medications, prescription or over-the-counter.
In a European study of 4,000 people with skin problems, doctors discovered that one-third of all allergic contact dermatitis was caused by applied medications. Benzocaine and neomycin were the most common offenders (Archives of Dermatology).
Few sights are more heartbreaking than that of a baby or toddler with a stubborn skin rash. Yet in many cases, you can quickly trace the cause to soaps or lotions applied to the youngster’s skin. Baby lotions often contain fragrance, lanolin and mineral oil, three of the most common causes of skin allergy.
`If a child comes in with a rash and he’s being rubbed with a lotion, the cure is often as simple as substituting plain vegetable oil — sunflower, safflower or peanut — for the commercial lotion,’ says, a pediatric allergist in Denver, Colorado, ‘Even for nappy rash, I use vegetable shortening instead of medication.
Of course, skin can react from the inside out. Certain foods — and milk in particular — are apt to cause allergic skin reactions.
If you have a child who has eczema, very often even a few teaspoons of milk will cause a reaction,’ ‘In other children, it’s dose related: they may have to drink a pint in order to react.’
To sort out and treat dietary causes of eczema, many allergists favor elimination diets over skin testing or immunotherapy.
For one thing, skin tests for food are often incorrect, indicating allergy when none is present (or vice versa), even when testing is done by a highly proficient allergist or immunologist. And immunotherapy is generally ineffective against dermatitis of any kind. So your best bet is to follow the instructions for an elimination diet and food rotation.
Such methods work. In one study, twenty-one infants with allergic dermatitis were put on a strict elimination diet of soya milk, potatoes, rice, buckwheat and other hypoallergenic foods.
After two to four weeks on the diet, the dermatitis healed in 33 per cent of the children and improved in another 57 per cent.
When cow’s milk was tested, reddening, itching and discomfort returned in 65 per cent of the children, virtually proving that milk contributed to the skin rash.
Other foods that triggered dermatitis in the infants were fruit, wheat, egg and fish — all common allergens. Blood tests confirmed the diagnosis. The authors conclude by saying that the elimination diet is very useful in controlling dermatitis — and the earlier it’s used, the better .
In a similar study, conducted by David J. Atherton, of the Hospital for Sick Children in London, thirty-six children were put on a soya-based diet that excluded cow’s milk, eggs, beef and chicken (related food allergens) for four weeks.
For the following four weeks, they ate their usual diet. For the last four weeks, they ate a control diet that included cow’s milk and eggs, disguised as milk substitutes.
About two-thirds of the children who completed the study improved significantly when they avoided milk, eggs, beef and chicken. Three of the children were completely cleared of eczema.
The children who did not totally improve may have been allergic to still other foods,.
If staying away from cow’s milk and eggs doesn’t help it is suggested a testing routine similar to the elimination diets described earlier. Finding your no-allergy diet.
At the end of several months, patient’s should have identified a list of foods to which allergy is suspected.
Contact allergy and food allergy are sometimes related. Doctors at the Hitchcock Clinic in Hanover, New Hampshire, discovered five people who were extremely sensitive to Rhus plants — poison ivy, oak and sumac — who also reacted to raw cashew nuts. Cashews, it seems, are related to Rhus plants and can cause generalized skin reactions when the nuts are eaten in large quantities.
That just goes to show that if you have skin allergy, the more you know about the condition, the better your chances of finding relief.
Since worry and stress leave you more vulnerable to an allergic outbreak, doctors generally agree that attention to the emotional aspects of skin allergy also has a bearing on relief. In other words, if you can learn to deal calmly and rationally with your allergy, you stand a better chance of enjoying clear skin.