What to eat to cure skin allergy
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.
Is it an allergy, sensitivity or intolerance?
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.
A reaction produced by the body’s immune system when exposed to a normally harmless substance.
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
What is an allergy blood test?
Allergies are a common and chronic condition that involves the body’s immune system.
Normally, your immune system works to fight off viruses, bacteria, and other infectious agents. When you own an allergy, your immune system treats a harmless substance, love dust or pollen, as a threat. To fight this perceived threat, your immune system makes antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE).
Substances that cause an allergic reaction are called allergens. Besides dust and pollen, other common allergens include animal dander, foods, including nuts and shellfish, and certain medicines, such as penicillin.
Allergy symptoms can range from sneezing and a stuffy nose to a life-threatening complication called anaphylactic shock. Allergy blood tests measure the quantity of IgE antibodies in the blood. A little quantity of IgE antibodies is normal. A larger quantity of IgE may mean you own an allergy.
Other names: IgE allergy test, Quantitative IgE, Immunoglobulin E, Entire IgE, Specific IgE
Skin is the largest organ covering the entire exterior of the body.
It receives one third of the body’s blood circulation. Your skin is tough and pliable, forming the body’s protective shield against heat, light, chemical and physical action. It plays an athletic role with the immune system, protecting us from infection. Your skin maintains a stable internal environment and is significant in maintaining a proper temperature for the body to function well. In addition to providing protection and internal regulation, your skin gathers sensory information from the environment, allowing you to feel painful and pleasant stimulation.
Your skin also stores water, fat, and vitamin D.
The skin consists of three layers: Epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous tissue. The outermost layer, the epidermis, is composed mostly of dead skin cells that are constantly being shed and replaced. The dermis or second layer has sweat glands, oil glands, nerve endings, and little blood vessels called capillaries, which are every woven together by a protein called collagen.
Collagen provides nourishment and support for skin cells. The nerves ending in this layer transmit sensations of pain, itch, touch and pleasure.
The hair follicles also originate in this layer. Destruction of either the epidermis or dermis can leave the body open and susceptible to infection. The subcutaneous adipose tissue is the deepest layer of skin and is a layer of fat and collagen that houses larger blood vessels and nerves. This layer is significant in controlling the temperature of the skin itself and the body and protects the body from injury by acting as a shock absorber. The thickness of this layer varies throughout the body and from person to person.
Underneath the subcutaneous tissue lays muscle and bone.
For the most part, the skin is tough, pliable and resistant to injury. If the skin becomes injured or broken, it is generally extremely resilient and has an amazing ability to self-repair and heal. Despite this resiliency, the skin is susceptible to breakdown, if subjected to prolonged abuses, such as excessive pressure, shear force, friction or moisture. This is a major concern for persons with transverse myelitis or other neuroimmunologic conditions that cause paralysis and/or decreased sensation.
For people with paralysis, the skin is at increased risk for breakdown for several reasons. Paralysis itself affects the skin and underlying tissue.
There is loss of collagen which weakens the skin and makes it less elastic. The lack of muscle function around boney areas of the body leads to muscle atrophy, resulting in less padding, which in turn, adds to the risk of skin breakdown. People with paralysis often own difficulty shifting their weight, repositioning themselves, or transferring without assistance.
Impaired sensation is often present, limiting the ability to sense when to make a weight shift or position adjustment.
People with impaired sensation are also vulnerable to injury from numerous other hazards, such as, heat, freezing, sun and trauma. Loss of sensation put an individual at risk for burns from extremely ordinary activities, such as using a lap top computer sitting directly on your lap or sitting too shut to a fireplace. Injury can be caused from things that are too freezing such as, ice packs or freezing exposure causing frostbite. Ingrown toenails can become infected and sunburn can become severe without feeling it.
When limited mobility is coupled with decreased sensation, a person is more likely to develop a specific type of skin breakdown called a pressure ulcer.
According to the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel, a pressure ulcer is defined as a localized injury to the skin and/or underlying tissue generally over a bony prominence, as a result of pressure, or pressure in combination with shear and/or friction (1). Pressure ulcers are one of the leading causes of complication across the life span of persons with paralysis (2). Up to 95 % of adults with spinal cord injury will develop at least one serious pressure ulcer at some time during their life (3).
Skin breakdown can range from minor scrapes, cuts, tears, blisters or burns to the most serious pressure ulcers with the destruction of tissue below to and even including the bone.
A pressure ulcer, especially one that requires surgery, such as a muscle flap or skin graft, can cost thousands of dollars to treat, require lengthy hospitalization, and weeks to months away from family, work, school or community activities. It has been estimated that for persons with spinal cord injury the cost of care for pressure ulcers is about $1.2 to 1.3 billion dollars annually (4).
With a concerted effort, skin breakdown is, for the most part, preventable. It can happen, however, even in people who maintain the most diligent care and use the proper equipment. If skin breakdown is identified early, when still in the minor stages, and if the cause of the breakdown can be identified and eliminated, healing should happen fairly quickly.
If it is not identified in its early stages, skin breakdown can rapidly progress from minor to serious.
Skin breakdown is caused in several diverse ways, including friction, shear, moisture and pressure. These causes can happen individually or in combination. Friction, moisture and sheer are identified as contributing factors to pressure ulcers (5). A friction injury occurs when the skin rubs on surfaces, such as a bed sheet, arm relax or brace and has the appearance of a scrape, abrasion or blister.
This type of injury is typically seen on the heels and elbows and may result from repositioning, propping or rubbing due to increased spasticity.
A shearing injury occurs with dragging or sliding of a body part across a surface and has the appearance of a cut or tear. This type of injury can happen from dragging your bottom during a transfer or sliding below in bed when the head of the bed is elevated. With the sliding force, bone is moved against the subcutaneous tissue while the epidermis and dermis remains essentially in the same position; against the supporting surface such as a wheelchair or bed.
This action causes occlusion of the blood vessels, decreasing blood flow, oxygen and nourishment to the skin, which eventually leads to breakdown. Sometimes a shear injury will actually tear the tissue over the tailbone and with unrelieved pressure will become a pressure ulcer.
Too much moisture over-hydrates the skin, making it feeble and more sensitive to friction, shear and breakdown (think about being in the tub or pool for a endless time). Primary sources of excess skin moisture include sweating, bowel and bladder accidents, and drainage from wounds.
Pressure ulcers happen when skin, soft tissue and blood vessels are compressed or squeezed between a bony prominence (such as your tailbone) and an external surface (such as your wheelchair cushion).
With compression of these vessels, the blood that nourishes the cells and takes away waste is cut off, starving the tissue of oxygen and vital nutrients. Without food and oxygen, tissue dies and skin breakdown begins. The body tries to compensate by sending more blood to the area. This process results in redness and swelling, places even more pressure on the blood vessels, and further endangers the health of the skin and underlying tissue. Ultimately, a pressure ulcer forms. Increased pressure over short periods of time and slight pressure over endless periods of time own been shown to cause equal amounts of damage.
Many factors own been identified as responsible for the development of skin breakdown and pressure ulcer formation.
In addition to immobility, impaired sensation and the external factors described above, numerous internal contributing factors own been identified. These internal factors include poor nutrition and hydration, weight, impaired circulation and oxygenation, impaired cognition or thinking, substance abuse, depression and age (6, 7). Nutritional factors significant to prevent or heal wounds include a balanced diet with an adequate intake of protein, vitamin C, vitamin A, and zinc, as well as an adequate intake of fluids (8). When a person is overweight, additional pounds put additional pressure on vulnerable skin areas increasing the risk of compression of blood vessels.
Individuals that are underweight often own decreased muscle mass with less fat padding over boney areas leaving them vulnerable to skin breakdown. Smoking, diabetes, anemia and other vascular conditions every lead to decreased circulation, increasing risk for skin breakdown. Individuals who are depressed or own impaired thinking and judgment due to substance abuse are less likely to be vigilant with regard to significant self-care issues, such as skin health. Young children generally own more resilient and elastic skin and more baby fat and padding so they often own extremely little difficulty with skin break below.
As children move into adolescence, their skin loses some of its elasticity. They generally own more body weight, putting more stress on pressure areas, such as the ischeal tuberosicties and tailbone with sitting. Teens often start to own more difficulty with skin breakdown. As we continue to age, our skin becomes increasingly less pliable and resilient. We experience the loss of collagen and muscle mass, as well as decreased circulation, making the skin more vulnerable.
The elderly are most prone to skin tears and stripping due to fragile, thin, and vulnerable skin. In addition, incontinence may become a more frequent issue for bedridden or ill persons, increasing problems with moisture as described above.
How can I hold my skin healthy?
Avoid prolonged pressure on any one spot
Reposition frequently. When seated in a wheelchair, do weight shifts every 15 minutes.
When lying in bed, reposition every 2 – 4 hours. Use pillows or wedges behind your back and between bony areas, such as knees and ankles. “Float” your heels and ankles off of the bed by supporting your lower leg with a pillow. Hold the head of the bed up less than 30 degrees to prevent shearing of skin from sliding below or the need to be pulled back up. If you use a wheelchair most of the day, avoid lying on your back at night. Instead, turn side to side to give your backside a break. Better yet, sleep on your stomach, if this position is comfortable and you are capable to breathe safely.
When positioned on your stomach, you own fewer pressure points, and can generally turn less frequently. Being on your stomach gives your backside a break, and allows you to stretch your hip flexor muscles and hamstring muscles, every for the price of one!
Eat a healthy diet
Eat a healthy diet and drink lots of fluids, especially water. Hold your body weight in a healthy range.
People that are overweight or underweight tend to own more problems with skin breakdown. Excellent nutrition will assist make your skin more resistant to breakdown and you will be more likely to heal and fight off infection should it happen. Eat the correct kinds of foods. This means a balanced diet with servings from every food groups. For healthy skin it is especially significant to get enough of the following nutrients in your diet:
- Zinc (seafood, meat and eggs)
- Vitamin A (Vegetables that are dark green or dark orange in color)
- Vitamin C (citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli)
- Omega 3 fatty acids (salmon, mackerel, flaxseed)
- Protein (meat, eggs, cheese, and soy products)
Extra calories, especially from protein, are significant for repairing damaged tissues if you do own skin breakdown.
If you are concerned that you do not get enough of these foods in your diet, you can speak with a nutritionist or your health care provider about supplementation.
Keep skin clean and dry
Bathe frequently using mild soap. Avoid extremely boiling water as it dries skin.
Dry your skin by patting rather than rubbing. Change undergarments or pads as soon as possible after a bowel or bladder accident.
Use therapeutic surfaces
Therapeutic surfaces, such as a pressure relieving wheelchair cushion or a pressure relieving mattress will reduce or relieve pressure, promote blood flow to tissues and enable proper positioning. Make certain that you use equipment the way it is recommended and that it fits correctly. When seated in a wheelchair, make certain the cushion is properly positioned and inflated and that you are sitting every the way back in the wheelchair.
Take responsibility for you own skin care
The first line of defense in keeping your skin healthy is to take responsibility for your own skin care.
If you are at risk for skin breakdown, you will need to develop a daily routine for monitoring and caring for your skin. You should do a finish inspection of your skin every day. If you are unable to assess your own skin, you should be knowledgeable about the areas of your body where you are most vulnerable to skin breakdown and be certain that your care givers are checking these areas for you and reporting the status of your skin.
The most common areas for skin breakdown (pressure points) in adults are the sacrum/coccyx (tailbone), heels, elbows, lateral maleollus (outside of the ankle), greater trocater (hip bone) or the bottom of the femur (outside and inside of the knee) and the ischial tuberosities (the bones we sit on).
Pressure points for children are diverse and based on age and development (7). For infants and children less than three years of age, the head makes up a greater portion of the entire body weight and surface areas. When they are placed on their backs, the occipital region (back of the head) becomes the primary pressure point. When placed on their side, the ears are also extremely susceptible. For older children, the sacrum (lower spine) and calcaneous (the heel of the foot) are most at risk (9).
Teach children to take responsibility for their own skin care
Parents of children at risk for skin breakdown need to be certain to check their children’s skin every day.
This can become more hard as children enter their teen years, develop more modesty and are interested (or insistent) on being more independent in their own care. This may be an area that parents need to insist on participation as skin breakdown can progress from minor to serious literally overnight in a kid (or in an adult for that matter). If you own made daily skin inspection a part of your child’s routine since the onset of paralysis, this should be less of an issue. Be certain that they own the equipment, such as a mirror on a flexible wand, to examine their own skin with your oversight, if at every possible.
Prevent mechanical Injury
Prevent mechanical injury to the skin from friction and shearing forces during repositioning and transfers.
Lift, don’t slide. Lowering the head of the bed will assist minimize sheer and friction from sliding below in bed. Lift the entire bed up to the proper height to facilitate level surface transfers to and from a wheelchair. If necessary, use assistive devices, such as transfer boards or mechanical lifts to assist with transfers. Your physical or occupational therapist can assist you with training and obtaining the correct equipment. Ensure that clothing fits comfortably and does not own pressure points, such as snaps, thick seams or pockets.
Be certain that clothing is smoothed below under the bottom and back so you don’t get pressure points from bunched fabric.
Hold bed sheets as wrinkle free as possible.
Develop a excellent home rehabilitation program
A regular daily therapy program will contribute to your overall health and well being, as well as reduce the risk of skin breakdown. A excellent program should include therapy to increase muscle mass and strength, improve your flexibility, improve your cardiovascular endurance, and increase your circulation. An activity based program that includes components of weight bearing and/or gait training, functional electrical stimulation biking, as well as strengthening and stretching activities are beneficial to assist prevent skin breakdown.
Use of the Wii gaming system in creative ways for “Wiihab” can assist with improving strength, balance and endurance.
Aquatic therapy and horseback riding therapy are also beneficial, in addition to being fun.
Keep muscle spasms under control
Some muscle spasms can be beneficial as they assist you change position, if you can’t move yourself. Too much muscle spasticity can cause rubbing and friction, especially when you are in bed at night. Talk with your care provider about how to best manage spasticity.
Exercise and range of motion are two excellent ways to reduce spasticity. Make certain orthotics (braces) are fitting properly, that they are worn correctly, and that the straps are fastened properly to prevent friction or pressure. Be certain that your bladder and bowel programs are working well as increased spasticity can be caused by a urinary tract infection or constipation. Spasticity can also increase when you own a burn or skin breakdown.
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
Symptoms of an allergic reaction
Allergic reactions generally happen quickly within a few minutes of exposure to an allergen.
They can cause:
- a red, itchy rash
- red, itchy, watery eyes
- a runny or blocked nose
- wheezing and coughing
- 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.
Substances that cause allergic reactions are called allergens.
The more common allergens include:
- latex – used to make some gloves and condoms
- insect bites and stings
- food – particularly nuts, fruit, shellfish, eggs and cows’ milk
- mould – these can release little particles into the air that you can breathe in
- grass and tree pollen – an allergy to these is known as hay fever (allergic rhinitis)
- dust mites
- animal dander, tiny flakes of skin or hair
- medicines – including ibuprofen, aspirin and certain antibiotics
- household chemicals – including those in detergents and hair dyes
Most of these allergens are generally harmless to people who are not allergic to them.
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:
- lotions and creams, such as moisturising creams (emollients) – these can reduce skin redness and itchiness
- decongestants – tablets, capsules, nasal sprays or liquids that can be used as a short-term treatment for a blocked nose
- 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
- 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.
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.