Health Facts

Skin Allergies- Eczema, Pruritis & Urticaria

Skin allergies are very common and could be due to different reasons.  Itchy skin (pruritus) or skin rashes can be caused when you are exposed to certain plants, food or medications. Eczema (common in children) is a chronic condition that causes redness of skin and makes them itchy. Urticaria (common in adults) or hives are red, itchy rashes due to skin reaction. The symptoms may appear both on and under your skin.

Eczema :

Also known as atopic dermatitis, it starts in infancy or early childhood. 10-20% of children and 1-3% of adults are affected. Dry, red, irritating and itchy skin are the common symptoms of eczema. Your skin may also develop small, fluid-filled bumps with clear or yellow fluid. A family history of allergy is observed in patients with eczema.

Atopic eczema can affect any part of your body. But, mostly it affects hands, elbows, back of knees, face and scalp in children.

Risk factors that can worsen the condition:

The exact cause of eczema is not known, but there are certain risk factors which can worsen your condition like:

food and environmental allergens/irritants

heat or cold

stress

genetics

Diagnosis and treatment :

Your physician will examine your skin and check for family history. They may use patch test or other test to identify other skin conditions.

You may have to try different treatment methods for years to control this disease, but the symptoms can return again.

Urticaria :

Also known as hives, which are red, itchy and raised areas of skin. If the condition lasts only for 6 months, it is known as acute urticaria, that is mostly caused by exposure to allergen. They can range in size and appear anywhere on your body. They make you feel uncomfortable and can interfere with daily activities and sleep.

Symptoms of Urticaria :

severe itching (pruritus)

batches of red or skin-coloured welts

swelling of lips, eyelids and throat

Causes of Urticaria:

Welts (raised red bumps) arises when your cells release some chemicals into your bloodstream. This skin reaction may be triggered by:

Food or drug

infections

insects or parasites

pressure on skin

sunlight

Diagnosis and treatment:

Physical examination and family history will help your doctor to identify the disease. Your doctor may also suggest you to undergo blood and skin tests.

Based on the severity of your signs and symptoms, your doctor will prescribe you medications and ointments or lotions.

FAQ's :

Research suggests that there is an increased chance of developing eczema if you have a family history, and the disease can be inherited. Studies have identified certain mutated (changes) genes that are linked to disease development.

According to research, gene test or genetic tests can help reveal or identify mutations (changes) in the genes in the people who are at high risk and further helping in treatment plan.

A person who has personal or family history of urticaria is at risk. Also, if you have newly developed or pre-existing allergies.

Acute urticaria or acute hives which appear suddenly will sometimes go away on their own within a day or two. But, certain type of urticaria may last for several weeks.

Wear cotton clothing that is loose-fitting. Several times a day, apply a cold compress to the irritated area, such as ice cubes wrapped in a washcloth—unless cold stimulates your hives. Anti-itch medicine can also be used.

References:

  1. Allergy and the skin: eczema and chronic urticaria. The Medical Journal of Australia. https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2006/185/9/5-allergy-and-skin-eczema-and-chronic-urticaria. Accessed on 25-03-2022.
  2. Atopic Dermatitis and Allergic Urticaria: Cutaneous manifestations of Immunodeficiency. PubMed Central. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5199140/. Accessed on 25-03-2022.
  3. Allergic Skin Conditions. American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology. https://www.aaaai.org/tools-for-the-public/conditions-library/allergies/allergic-skin-conditions. Accessed on 25-03-2022.
  4. Atopic Eczema. NHS. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/atopic-eczema/. Accessed on 25-03-2022.
  5. Skin Allergy. American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology. https://acaai.org/allergies/allergic-conditions/skin-allergy/. Accessed on 25-03-2022.
  6. Chronic Hives. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chronic-hives/symptoms-causes/syc-20352719#:~:text=Hives%20(urticaria)%20are%20red%2C,frequently%20over%20months%20or%20years. Accessed on 25-03-2022.
  7. Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/atopic-dermatitis-eczema/symptoms-causes/syc-20353273. Accessed on 25-03-2022.

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