Allergies are a common immune system reaction to substances that aren’t usually harmful to your body. If you were never allergic to anything growing up, it can be confusing and a little alarming to have an allergic reaction as an adult, especially if you don’t know what you’re reacting to. A number of things can trigger allergic rashes, and tracking down what initiated yours can be tough without the help of a doctor.
You may be wondering how you can develop allergies as an adult? Truth is, anyone can develop an allergy when their immune system mistakenly identifies a substance as harmful—even adults aren’t immune to first time allergies. One of the most common and unsightly allergic reactions that individuals experience include rashes on their skin. Allergic reactions on the face and body can be alarming if you aren’t sure what they are or what caused them. While they aren’t usually harmful, there are a few ways you can soothe your skin allergies with home remedies.
Causes of allergic skin reactions can vary. The most common of skin allergy triggers include perfumes and fragrances, nickel found in jewelry, latex in household products, hair dye and henna tattoos, certain plants, beauty products, and cosmetics.
Fragrances in perfumes aren’t the only ones that can cause an allergic reaction on your neck and arms—there are fragrances found in a variety of household products that you may not expect, which might be why this is one of the more common causes of skin allergies. Everyday Health says:
“Fragrances that may cause an allergic reaction are found in hundreds of products, including shampoos, soaps, body washes, and household products like room sprays, cleaners, laundry detergents, and dryer sheets. Even products labeled ‘unscented’ can cause contact dermatitis because they may contain a fragrance designed to block unwanted scents.”
If you know that you’re prone to fragrance allergies, your best bet is to opt for fragrance-free products.
Another common skin irritant is nickel. Doris Day, MD, says that it’s actually the most common allergy she sees. Most jewelry has some component made of nickel, which is why earlobe dermatitis is so common. Allergies to nickel may be set off by the jewelry you wear, or by the needle that was used during piercing. Everyday Health notes that “nickel is also found in watchbands, eyeglass frames, zippers, and other metal fasteners, such as buckles, buttons, snaps, and hooks.” As such, nickel-sensitive individuals should use nylon or coated metal fasteners instead.
Symptoms of a skin allergy include rashes on various parts of the body. However, those rashes can vary in severity. Some people may develop hives along with their allergy-caused rash, while others may not. Clifford W. Bassett, MD, says that “Redness and itchiness, with or without hives, are signs of a skin allergy. Skin allergies are caused by allergic contact dermatitis.”
A contact dermatitis rash may cause itching, tenderness, pain, blisters that drain fluid and crust, or have dry red bumps. It’s estimated that atopic dermatitis will affect three percent of adults in their lifetime. These symptoms often develop in the exact spot that came into contact with the irritant, or can sometimes affect your entire body.
Hives are also a possibility, even though they’re more frequently associated with food, insect bites, or ingesting certain medications. However, skin contact with chemicals, ointments, latex, and similar substances can also cause hives to appear.
Skin allergy treatment can be store bought, or you can choose to pursue your allergic reaction treatment using home remedies. Applying aloe vera to the affected area can help soothe your rash. New Health Guide explains why this remedy is so effective:
“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.”
The best way to apply aloe is to take the gel straight from the stalk and rub it into the affected area. You can do this up to three times a day for optimal results.
If you’re dealing with hives instead of or in combination with a rash, a cold compress can help relieve some discomfort. Hives exude heat, so holding something cool against your skin or even taking a lukewarm bath can help. Placing cool oatmeal on your hives can also work to reduce itching. Remember to keep hydrated as well—drinking lots of water will help flush your system and rid your body of the irritant that caused it to react.
C. Carson-DeWitt., “Top 10 Skin Allergy Triggers,” Everyday Health web site, January 9, 2015; http://www.everydayhealth.com/allergy-photos/top-10-skin-allergy-triggers.aspx#03, last accessed January 10, 2017.
“Allergic Reaction Rash,” New Health Guide web site; http://www.newhealthguide.org/Allergic-Reaction-Rash.html, last accessed January 10, 2017.