What are the possible causes of skin allergy

Substances that cause allergic reactions are called allergens.

The more common allergens include:

  1. grass and tree pollen – an allergy to these is known as hay fever (allergic rhinitis)
  2. latex – used to make some gloves and condoms
  3. insect bites and stings
  4. mould – these can release little particles into the air that you can breathe in
  5. animal dander, tiny flakes of skin or hair
  6. medicines – including ibuprofen, aspirin and certain antibiotics
  7. dust mites
  8. food – particularly nuts, fruit, shellfish, eggs and cows’ milk
  9. household chemicals – including those in detergents and hair dyes

Most of these allergens are generally harmless to people who are not allergic to them.

What causes allergies?

Allergies occur when the body’s immune system reacts to a specific substance as though it’s harmful.

It’s not clear why this happens, but most people affected own a family history of allergies or own closely related conditions, such as asthma or eczema.

The number of people with allergies is increasing every year.

The reasons for this are not understood, but 1 of the main theories is it’s the result of living in a cleaner, germ-free environment, which reduces the number of germs our immune system has to deal with.

It’s thought this may cause it to overreact when it comes into contact with harmless substances.

Getting assist for allergies

See a GP if you ponder you or your kid might own had an allergic reaction to something.

The symptoms of an allergic reaction can also be caused by other conditions.

A GP can assist determine whether it’s likely you own an allergy.

If they ponder you might own a mild allergy, they can offer advice and treatment to assist manage the condition.

If your allergy is particularly severe or it’s not clear what you’re allergic to, they may refer you to an allergy specialist for testing and advice about treatment.

Find out more about allergy testing

Is it an allergy, sensitivity or intolerance?


A reaction produced by the body’s immune system when exposed to a normally harmless substance.

Alternative and Complementary Therapies

Some people own also used complementary or alternative remedies to treat their eczema.

These include, for example, baths that contain oatmeal, baking soda, or unscented oils; massages with essential oils; and stress management techniques, such as yoga and meditation, according to the NEA. (17,18)

Learn More About Treatment for Eczema: Medication, Alternative and Complementary Therapies, Diet Changes, and More

Medication Options

Medication for atopic dermatitis includes:

  1. Topical corticosteroids (ointments, creams, or lotions) that include drugs such as Vanos (0.1 percent fluocinonide) cream, and come in varying degrees of strength
  2. The self-istered injectable drug Dupixent (dupilumab)
  3. Antihistamines, such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine), hydroxyzine, or Unisom (doxylamine succinate), which assist with sleep issues and may assist prevent nighttime scratching
  4. Oral immunosuppressants, like Neoral, Sandimmune or Restasis (cyclosporine), Trexall or Rasuvo (methotrexate), or CellCept (mycophenolate)
  5. Topical calcineurin inhibitors (TCIs), love Protopic (tacrolimus) and Elidel (pimecrolimus)
  6. The topical PDE4 inhibitor Eucrisa (crisaborole)
  7. Antibiotic, antiviral, or antifungal drugs to treat any skin infections (11,12)

Other treatment options include light therapy (phototherapy), which treats eczema using ultraviolet light, nots the NEA, and wet wrap therapy, which combines topical medicines and moisturizes with a wet gauze wrap, per the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).


Diet Options

Changing your diet isn’t a surefire way to control eczema symptoms, but it may assist. Food allergies and eczema can produce similar skin symptoms, so if there are certain foods that trigger this reaction — maybe it’s eggs for you and peanuts for another person — you’ll desire to avoid them, notes the NEA. (15)

If you aren’t certain which foods may be triggering your symptoms, you may explore using an elimination diet. With this approach, you’ll eliminate potentially problematic foods before adding them back in, noticing how your skin reacts along the way, says InformedHealth.org.

What are the possible causes of skin allergy



The exaggeration of the normal effects of a substance. For example, the caffeine in a cup of coffee may cause extreme symptoms, such as palpitations and trembling.


Where a substance causes unpleasant symptoms, such as diarrhoea, but does not involve the immune system.

People with an intolerance to certain foods can typically eat a little quantity without having any problems.

Sheet final reviewed: 22 November 2018
Next review due: 22 November 2021

There are 2 types of contact dermatitis.

Irritant dermatitis: This is the most common type.

It is not caused by an allergy, but rather the skin’s reaction to irritating substances or friction. Irritating substances may include acids, alkaline materials such as soaps and detergents, fabric softeners, solvents, or other chemicals. Extremely irritating chemicals may cause a reaction after just a short period of contact. Milder chemicals can also cause a reaction after repeated contact.

People who own atopic dermatitis are at increased risk of developing irritant contact dermatitis.

Common materials that may irritate your skin include:

  1. Cement
  2. Rubber gloves
  3. Long-term exposure to wet diapers
  4. Pesticides or weed killers
  5. Hair dyes
  6. Shampoos

Allergic contact dermatitis: This form of the condition occurs when your skin comes in contact with a substance that causes you to own an allergic reaction.

Common allergens include:

  1. Adhesives, including those used for untrue eyelashes or toupees.
  2. Rubber or latex gloves or shoes.
  3. Nickel or other metals (found in jewelry, watch straps, metal zips, bra hooks, buttons, pocketknives, lipstick holders, and powder compacts).
  4. Preservatives commonly used in prescription and over-the-counter topical medicines.
  5. Fabrics and clothing, including both materials and dyes.
  6. Nail polish, hair dyes, and permanent wave solutions.
  7. Balsam of Peru (used in numerous personal products and cosmetics, as well as in numerous foods and drinks).
  8. Fragrances in perfumes, cosmetics, soaps, and moisturizers.
  9. Poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, and other plants.
  10. Antibiotics, such as neomycin rubbed on the surface of the skin.
  11. Formaldehyde, which is used in a wide number of manufactured items.

    What are the possible causes of skin allergy

You will not own a reaction to a substance when you are first exposed to the substance. However, you will form a reaction after future exposures. You may become more sensitive and develop a reaction if you use it regularly. It is possible to tolerate the substance for years or even decades before developing allergy. Once you develop an allergy you will be allergic for life.

The reaction most often occurs 24 to 48 hours after the exposure. The rash may persist for weeks after the exposure stops.

Some products cause a reaction only when the skin is also exposed to sunlight (photosensitivity).

These include:

  1. Shaving lotions
  2. Coal tar products
  3. Sulfa ointments
  4. Some perfumes
  5. Sunscreens
  6. Oil from the skin of a lime

A few airborne allergens, such as ragweed, perfumes, vapor from nail lacquer, or insecticide spray, can also cause contact dermatitis.

Studies own shown that food allergies overall are the third most common type of feline allergy, outranked in frequency only by allergies to flea bites and inhaled substances. Although itchy, irritating skin problems are the most common signs of this allergy, an estimated 10 percent to 15 percent of affected cats also exhibit gastrointestinal signs, such as vomiting and diarrhea.

The itching that typically signals the presence of a food allergy is caused by the eruption of little, pale, fluid-filled lumps on a cat’s skin, which form in response to the presence of an allergen, a substance to which the animal’s system is abnormally sensitive.

“The itching eruptions primarily affect the head and neck area,” says Carolyn McDaniel, VMD, a lecturer in clinical sciences at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “They’re not always in that area, but often enough to serve as a clue that the source is a food allergy.”

In themselves, the aggravating lesions do not pose a significant health hazard. But the incessant scratching that they immediate may cause secondary skin wounds and a resulting vulnerability to severe bacterial infection.

In addition, gastrointestinal problems stemming from a food allergy may own far-reaching systemic implications, including food avoidance that can result in health-compromising weight loss.

The most visible signs of a food allergy—the persistent scratching, the emergence of skin lesions, loss of hair, and a general deterioration of the coat—do not develop overnight.

What are the possible causes of skin allergy

Instead, they tend to become evident and intensify over extended periods of time—months or even longer—as the animal’s immune system gradually mounts a defense against certain protein and carbohydrate molecules that are present in most standard cat foods. “We don’t know why this allergy develops,” says Dr.

What are the possible causes of skin allergy

McDaniel. “A cat of any age can be affected, and it can happen in a cat that has been on the same diet for years.”

When the signs appear, a cat should get immediate veterinary care. If a food allergy is indeed suspected, the specific allergen should be identified and removed from the animal’s diet.

After other potential causes of the skin eruptions, such as flea bites, are ruled out and a food allergy is identified as the probable cause of the clinical signs, the next challenge is to identify what precisely in the cat’s diet is responsible for the problem.

What are the possible causes of skin allergy

This process will most effectively be carried out at home by the owner’s introduction of what is termed a “novel” diet, which is based on the fact that most feline food allergies are traceable to the protein or carbohydrate content of an affected animal’s normal fare.

The most commonly used protein sources in cat food include beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, and eggs. Since protein is a fundamental component of living cells and is necessary for the proper functioning of an organism, the novel diet must contain protein—but it must be derived from a source to which an affected cat has not been previously exposed, such as venison or kangaroo meat.

Since the same holds true for carbohydrates, the vegetables that are frequently used in cat foods—wheat, barley, and corn, for instance—would be excluded from the novel diet and replaced by, for example, potato.

If a cat consumes nothing but the novel diet and water for a period of at least eight to 10 weeks, it is likely that the allergic signs will gradually vanish. In that case, the owner can assume that the allergen was a component of the previous diet. And to identify the specific offending allergen, the owner subsequently reintroduces components of the cat’s original diet one by one and watches carefully for the reemergence of allergic symptoms. If the symptoms recur, they will probably do so within a week or two, in which case the owner will own confirmed at least one source of the allergy.

Through repeated systematic testing—and a lot of patience—it is possible for the owner to pinpoint every dietary ingredients to which a cat is allergic. Therapy, it follows, requires the permanent exclusion of these ingredients from the cat’s diet.

Treatment and Medication Options for Eczema

There is no cure for eczema, and the goal of treatment is to reduce eczema symptoms, heal the skin, and prevent skin damage and flare-ups.

Medication, moisturizers, and at-home skin-care routines make up an effective treatment plan for numerous people who live with eczema.

Prevention of Eczema

There is no proven way to prevent getting eczema.

Nonetheless, research suggests children who are breastfed until they’re 4 months ancient may be less likely to get it. Alternatively, partially hydrolyzed formula, which contains processed cow milk protein, may also reduce a child’s chance of developing atopic dermatitis. (9)

If you own eczema, you can take the following steps to prevent flare-ups, per the Cleveland Clinic:

  1. Follow a healthy skin-care routine, including using moisturizing cream or ointment two to three times a day.
  2. Tame stress by recognizing the signs and taking steps to manage it.
  3. Wear loose clothes — that is, those that are made of cotton and other natural materials.
  4. Limit exposure to known irritants and allergens as best you can.
  5. Bathe smart, such as by using only mild soap and lukewarm water for your bath or shower, and patting your skin dry instead of rubbing it.
  6. Keep your body temperature steady by avoiding sudden changes in temperature and humidity.
  7. Use gloves when needed, such as when you’re at risk of coming in contact with irritants.

    That means while working exterior or if you own to put your hands underwater (to absorb sweat, wear cotton gloves under plastic gloves).

  8. Stay cool by drinking lots of water, and avoiding getting boiling and sweaty.
  9. Don’t itch affected skin areas. (19)

The main difference between hives and a rash is that hives are a particular type of rash, characterized by swollen, pale-red or skin-colored bumps on the skin that appear and vanish quickly, and tend to “blanch” (which means turn white) when pressed.

Hives are also known as urticaria.

Hives are a type of rash, but there are numerous other diverse ways rashes present. Both hives and rashes tend to be itchy.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction

Allergic reactions generally happen quickly within a few minutes of exposure to an allergen.

They can cause:

  1. sneezing
  2. a red, itchy rash
  3. red, itchy, watery eyes
  4. wheezing and coughing
  5. a runny or blocked nose
  6. worsening of asthma or eczema symptoms

Most allergic reactions are mild, but occasionally a severe reaction called anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock can happen.

This is a medical emergency and needs urgent treatment.

How to manage an allergy

In many cases, the most effective way of managing an allergy is to avoid the allergen that causes the reaction whenever possible.

For example, if you own a food allergy, you should check a food’s ingredients list for allergens before eating it.

There are also several medicines available to help control symptoms of allergic reactions, including:

  1. antihistamines – these can be taken when you notice the symptoms of a reaction, or before being exposed to an allergen, to stop a reaction occurring
  2. lotions and creams, such as moisturising creams (emollients) – these can reduce skin redness and itchiness
  3. decongestants – tablets, capsules, nasal sprays or liquids that can be used as a short-term treatment for a blocked nose
  4. steroid medicines – sprays, drops, creams, inhalers and tablets that can assist reduce redness and swelling caused by an allergic reaction

For some people with extremely severe allergies, a treatment called immunotherapy may be recommended.

What are the possible causes of skin allergy

This involves being exposed to the allergen in a controlled way over a number of years so your body gets used to it and does not react to it so severely.