Allergies are a common but misguided immune system reaction to specific substances that are not actually harmful to your body. Some substances like foods, medications or pollen will not bother most individuals, but will trigger an allergic reaction in others. In most cases, allergies will cause continuous sneezing or a rash, but the type of allergic reaction you experience will vary from patient to patient. Some types of allergic reactions known as anaphylaxis can be fatal. Luckily, there are many simple and effective remedies to treat allergic reaction rash.
Major Causes of Allergic Reaction Rash
First time exposure to an allergen will usually cause a mild reaction, but repeated exposures can result in more serious symptoms. Once you have been exposed to an allergen or experienced a reaction, even a small exposure to the same allergen may trigger a severe reaction.
1. Contact Dermatitis
The most common type of dermatitis is irritant contact dermatitis that is caused when a substance damages the outer portions of the skin. This may include chemical solvents, soaps, skin products or makeup that is too harsh for the skin. Other irritants include things like poison ivy and oak. These types of irritants commonly cause dry red patches on the face, hands or fingers. If this is severe it may lead to blisters on the skin.
In some cases, people only have an allergic reaction when the products they are wearing are exposed to the sun. This is more common with ingredients in ointments, NSAID medications or sunscreens. Airborne substances may also lead to a contact dermatitis reaction. Occupational contact dermatitis occurs when irritants or allergens such as fuels, chemicals, water, dyes, cleaning agents or similar products come into your contact while on the job.
A contact dermatitis rash may cause itching that can be severe, tenderness, pain, blisters that drain fluid and crust, skin rash in an exposed area, bumps, a red rash or cracked, dry red patches similar to a burn. These symptoms appear in areas that have come into direct contact with the allergen, such as a patch of skin that touched a piece of jewelry. In some cases only patches of skin exposed to the allergen will react, or your whole body will react to an allergen such as a food or medication that you have ingested.
Allergies to foods may cause hives to develop on the skin, even if you have eaten this food before without incident. Insect stings or bites and ingesting medications may also lead to an allergic reaction on the skin. Skin contact with chemicals, ointments, nettle stings, latex and similar substances may also cause hives to appear.
Hives usually appear suddenly, causing small raised bumps to appear on the affected area of the skin. These can be red or white and often resemble a flare, nettle sting or blister. The hives will vary in size but they will often run into each other making a whole area of your skin look blotchy and red. Hives often start to fade within 24 hours, but some can remain on the body for some time if the reaction was very severe.
Additional symptoms include a general ill feeling, itchiness in the affected area, swollen tongue or throat, difficulty breathing, swelling of the genitals, eyelids or lips. This is the result of a condition known as angio-oedema which causes fluid to leak into tissues beneath the skin, causing them to swell. The symptoms of this condition usually last a few days longer than the hives themselves.
Remedies for Allergic Reaction Rash
Warning: DO NOT Scratch. Scratching the itchy skin can damage your skin which may lead to more irritation. If you must, rub your skin with a towel rather than scratching or apply an anti-itch cream.
Why It Helps: Aloe Vera contains high amounts of vitamin E and an anti-inflammatory agent known as B-sitosterol. The plant also has antibacterial and antifungal properties which can help to relax the skin when it is having a negative reaction to a substance.
How to Apply: Take one Aloe Vera stalk around 6-8 inches long, break it open and apply the gel directly to the area that is affected by the rash. You may increase this dosage as necessary if the rash is particularly large. Apply the gel three times a day for best results.
Hives exude heat, so applying a cool compress, holding your skin against a cold glass or taking a lukewarm bath can help to reduce discomfort. Placing cool oatmeal on hives can also help to reduce itching. Wear breathable clothing that keeps the skin cool to minimize irritation.
Drinking plenty of water will help to flush away the irritant that has caused your system to react. This will also help to minimize the side effects of allergy medication.
4. Medical Products
Non-prescription products can help to reduce the rashes caused by an allergic reaction, though you should check to ensure that you are not allergic to any of the ingredients in these products before applying. To be safe, consult your doctor about what medications would be appropriate to use. Benadryl Bug Bite Relief can help to provide effective, fast relief from the itchiness that insect stings and bits may cause. This topical analgesic/antihistamine protects the skin to prevent pain and itching while protecting the skin from more damage. Oral Benadryl can be taken to reduce any itching or swelling that could lead to scratching.
Witch hazel has an astringent property that can help to reduce swelling on the skin. Boil an ounce of witch hazel bark for 10 minutes in a pint of water. Strain the mixture, cool it and then soak a clean cloth in the witch hazel and apply it to the skin for 30 minutes. Gently wash the skin afterward.
Calendula can help to produce more white blood cells that will eliminate the microbes causing the rash. Boil calendula herbs or add 1-2 drops of essential oil and allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes. Apply it to your rash using a clean cloth.
When to See a Doctor
Call your doctor if you notice your throat swelling, face swelling, hives or difficulty breathing. If the pain from your initial reaction begins to get worse you should check to see if you might have an infection. Those that have been bitten by an insect should also call their doctor if they develop fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, cramps, dizziness, weakness, confusion or muscle aches.
If you develop a severe rash that does not subside in a week, gets worse quickly or is accompanied by other symptoms get medical attention.