My Skin is Red and Itchy, What Should I Do?

More than 20 percent of people in the US have experienced hives. Sometimes an allergic response is an underlying cause. If you have experienced this, then visit Arkansas Allergy and Asthma.

Hive-producing allergens

Although food items are not the only cause of hives, the following food allergens trigger eruptions of hives: peanuts, eggs, nuts, and shellfish.

Poison ivy, insect stings, certain medications, and pet dander can also produce eruptions of hives.

What is eczema?

This skin rash is medically-termed atopic dermatitis. It includes itchy patches of red, dry, and scaly skin. Although eczema can appear similar to hives, it involves different dermal layer changes. Moreover, eczema is most often found on the face, elbow, and knees while hives can erupt on nearly any skin surface.

An estimated 10-20 percent of children have eczema, and exposure to allergens can worsen it. This skin condition also tends to run in families. It can also first appear in an afflicted person before one year of age with chronic recurrences throughout childhood and adulthood.

Skin testing and blood testing

A skin test (performed via prick, scratch, or puncture) is the usual method for checking whether or not someone is allergic to an allergen. Skin tests can test for an allergic reaction for different substances at once (with a different needle, or lancet, used for each allergen). A small mark is typically drawn on the skin, and a drop of the allergen extract is applied next to each mark.

In order to assess whether or not a person’s skin is reacting normally, histamine is also applied to the skin surface, since it typically produces a skin reaction in most people.

For people who are not candidates for skin-testing, a blood sample may be used for lab-based testing of an allergen.

Latex allergies and resulting dermatitis

Prior to latex removal from most hospital settings, healthcare workers use to have frequent exposure to latex gloves and products. Latex may still be present in kitchen products and rubber toys/balloons. Around 4.3 percent of the global population is allergic to latex, and 10-17 percent of healthcare workers are allergic to latex. (Is there a citation to that link of 10-17%?)

Three types of reactions to natural rubber latex are classified as (1) IgE-mediated allergic reactions involving the immune system and can cause anaphylaxis, (2) cell-mediated contact dermatitis, and (3) irritant dermatitis.

An allergy or blood test may reveal if your red, itchy skin is due to your latex use or some other allergen.

Mistaking itchy skin for an allergy

Itchy skin even in children is not always from an allergy. Although 13 percent of all children have chronic eczema (characterized by patches of red, itchy skin), three other causes of itchy skin are:

  • Dry top layer of skin often due to cold, dry weather or the frequent use of harsh soap products
  • A fungal infection
  • A skin condition that speeds up the life cycle of skin cells, thereby creating scaly and dry skin patches

However, certain irritants facilitate eczema episodes. These include scratchy wool clothes on the skin, failing to completely rinse the soap off skin after bathing or showering, and exposure to cigarette smoke.

Testing for an allergy is the best way to know if an allergen is causing your itchy skin. If a skin or blood test confirms that you do have an allergy, then doctors can develop a treatment plan to control your allergy.  

As an allergy and asthma clinic with sites in Little Rock and Conway, Arkansas Allergy and Asthma treats both allergies and asthma. Whether for you, your spouse, or your children, our allergy and asthma clinic is an excellent choice due to our clinicians’ experience treating allergy-afflicted patients across the lifespan.