What’s Really Irritating Your Skin: Little Known Skin Allergies Uncovered

Have you ever removed a Band-Aid to unexpectedly find red, irritated skin underneath? According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, skin allergies prompt approximately 5.7 million doctor visits annually. With over 35 years of full service dermatology experience, the physicians and providers at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta have seen their fair share of skin allergies, too.   Frequently, ingredients in common products that often get daily use contain allergens and irritants that cause uncomfortable issues for sensitive skin.

whats really irritating your skinChemicals: If a new facial product gives you red skin and scales, it is likely you could have a chemical allergy, which can also occur from products repeatedly used. This type of allergic skin reaction is called allergic contact dermatitis, which occurs when the immune system overacts to typically harmless chemicals in cleaners, colognes, hair dyes, and other beauty products.  In addition to red skin and scaly patches, other symptoms of chemical allergies include burning, itching, swelling, hives, and increased sun sensitivity. Product ingredients preservatives, anti-bacterials, thickeners, color agents, and certain sunscreens can induce contact dermatitis.

Fragrances: You may be surprised to know that use of fragrance is one of the top causes of contact allergies. If you have sensitive skin or begin to develop a rash, it’s important to begin using products labeled as fragrance free or intended for sensitive skin, such as the Foreo’s Luna Cleansing System for Ultra-Sensitive Skin. Because many sensitive skin products are not labeled for skin sensitive to allergens, but certain conditions (i.e. acne, rosacea, dry).  If you’re in doubt about which products are truly designed for your skin’s sensitivities it is best to inquire with one of our board certified dermatologists or Certified Physicians Assistants who is already familiar with your medical history and the presence of any skin conditions. Pay attention to sneaky fragrance in detergents and soaps as well, which may be an underlying cause of irritation.

Nickel: Upon taking out earrings, you may find irritated, scaly, or red skin underneath called earlobe dermatitis. This is often caused by a reaction to nickel, which is used to created metal alloys found in jewelry. Look for jewelry specifically labeled as nickel-free to avoid unsightly reactions.

Adhesive: Bandages, artificial nails, and nicotine or birth control transdermal patches can produce red, bumpy, itchy skin when used for prolonged periods of time. The consequences of adhesive allergy can be treated with an over the counter product such as hydrocortisone. While the rash will likely go away on its own after a few days post-removal, it’s best to use a patch test method to stop inflammation in its tracks. Avoid the harsh adhesives associated with artificial nails by taking steps to maintain natural, beautiful nails.

Fabric: It is common for skin to be sensitive to an abrasive fabric texture, such as wool. Formaldehyde resins which make fabrics waterproof and resistant to wrinkles and shrinkage can sometimes cause burning eyes, rashes, and chest tightness. To avoid these symptoms, wash new clothing before wear to reduce the amount of residual finishing products or look for products made with cotton, polyester, nylon, and acrylic, which are all minimally treated with resins.

If you believe you are having an allergic reaction to a product, visiting a DAA board-certified dermatologist can help clear up your issues, as well as any questions you may have. Be sure to keep track of your symptoms and if possible, come in as soon as the reaction begins to avoid further, unintentional exposure to the skin irritant. For more from Dermatology Associates of Atlanta, please follow us on   Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest  and Google+.