Dry Skin & Allergies
Dry skin is often associated with a lack of skin hydration, a problem that is more common during the winter. But a recurring dry skin problem or one that flares up randomly may be caused by an allergy. Be aware of any accompanying symptoms, such as congestion, wheezing, coughing, sneezing or runny nose, and see your doctor if your symptoms persist.
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology lists three types of dry skin conditions associated with allergies: contact dermatitis, hives and eczema. All three types make your skin dry, red and itchy. Contact dermatitis causes a localized rash, while hives can break out all over your body. Eczema can occur on any part of your body but is most common on the knees, elbows and face.
Contact dermatitis occurs when your skin comes into contact with an irritating chemical. The Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology reports that rashes and dry skin associated with contact dermatitis occur within 48 hours of exposure. Hives are associated with food and drug allergies. They usually go away within a few days, but in chronic cases, they can last for months or even years, according to the academy. Eczema is attributed to allergens such as pet dander, dust mites, mold, pollen and foods. Eczema is common among infants, especially if there is a family history.
Prevention of allergy-related skin conditions depends on their causes. Contact dermatitis is prevented by avoiding the specific chemicals, such as latex or poison ivy. To prevent hives and control eczema, avoid trigger food and environmental triggers. Eczema may be more difficult to prevent, though, as family history often plays a role, according to the Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
A family doctor can evaluate your dry skin condition. But the academy recommends that you see an allergist, as he specializes in allergy-related skin rashes and can better diagnose your condition. Treatment options vary, depending on the severity of the skin condition. Allergists commonly prescribe hydrocortisone, which comes in higher levels of strength than an over-the-counter version. A steroid may be temporarily prescribed to treat a severe rash. If your rash becomes infected, your allergist may prescribe a healing ointment such as mupirocin. Use medications as directed, and call your doctor if the dry skin does not improve.
Avoid scratching your skin, however itchy it may be. Make sure your infant's nails are trimmed so that she does not scratch and infect her skin. If you have eczema, avoid laundry detergents and bath soaps that contain dyes and perfumes. Quickcare.org also recommends the use of a room humidifier to combat dry air, which makes dry skin worse. Keep skin hydrated with fragrance-free lotions.
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