It might not be new for you to experience itchiness, redness, and hives when something touches your skin. Our skin is the interface between our body and the environment. Consequently, our skin is prone to be in contact with all sorts of foreign substances. When your skin reacts to things that others normally don't, it can result in a rash or other uncomfortable sensations, meaning that you are allergic to that particular element.
Skin allergies come in many forms and can appear in various parts of your body. Depending on how sensitive your immune system is to the trigger, the symptoms can be mild or severe. In most cases of allergic dermatitis, the swelling, itching, or rashes can go away on their own in a matter of weeks or by taking medication.
In the meantime, here are some things that we can do to alleviate the symptoms.
Stay Away From The Trigger
To state the obvious, prevention is better than a cure. Avoiding contact with allergens is the best way for you to manage your skin allergic reaction.
If you are unsure of what causes your skin allergy, keep a diary. Not the regular kind, but instead take notes whenever you experience skin allergy symptoms. Try to record what you came in contact with and what symptoms you had. This will allow you to narrow down the immune trigger and reduce the possibility of getting exposed.
Don't Scratch The Itch!
According to Stanley Fineman, MD, itchiness induces scratching, and the scratch causes more inflammation with more rash, and thus exacerbates the itchiness. This vicious cycle is called the itch-scratch cycle. In addition, research mentions that the itch-scratch cycle can perpetuate skin barrier damage and itchiness.
Hence, you will be more inclined to get invaded by harmful substances because the protective layer is broken. It's worth noting that our hands are home to bacteria and other microbiomes — even the pathogenic kind. So, keep your hands away from the itch! You don't want to introduce more potentially damaging substances to your skin.
Cool Off and Soak
A simple way to calm a fiery rash is by using a cold compress on the affected area. If your skin allergy is caused by something you put on your skin, like sunscreen or perfume, taking a shower will help subside milder symptoms.
Another home remedy alternative to soothe your skin is taking an oatmeal bath. The history of oats being used as skincare dates back to ancient Rome and Egypt. According to research, oats in their colloidal form (a mixture of microscopic insoluble particles that are suspended throughout another substance) contain proteins, starches, polysaccharides, essential fatty acids, phospholipids, and α-Glucan that provide many benefits to the skin, such as reinforcing the protective and moisture barrier.
Go With Loose Clothing
Do yourself a favor. Leave those skinny jeans at home and let your skin breathe. Wearing tight clothing generates pressure and friction against your skin and will aggravate or even cause flare-ups. Comfort is your best friend, so opt for loose-fitted clothes instead (think sweatpants and baggy shirts).
Choosing the right clothing material is also an important part to ease the rash and itch. Dr. (Col.) Anil Goyal suggests fabrics like cotton, linen, silk, and chambray because they are breathable and have better moisture absorption. Meanwhile, clothing made from satin, nylon, polyester, rayon, and viscose materials should be avoided as they tend to be heavy and don't absorb sweat. Leaving your skin feeling damp will clog the pores and might lead to intensified irritation.
Get Over-the-Counter (OTC) Medication
There are plenty of OTC products for relieving skin rashes, from aloe vera to hydrocortisone and calamine.
Aloe vera has been known to have many benefits for our skin. It's cooling, hydrating, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties serve to soothe mild rashes. You don't need a prescription for this remedy and can even extract the gel from a fresh aloe plant. However, while it has various healing qualities, it can only do so much and might not be an effective option for treating more serious skin inflammatory conditions.
Other commonly found OTC ointments that can help with alleviating rashes are hydrocortisone cream and calamine lotion. Based on what causes your skin allergy, you might need to consult your dermatologist on which topical treatment is recommended for your condition.
Taking care of your skin is a journey we'll always be on. Skin allergies, no matter how mild or harmless they might seem, should be taken seriously if you want to maintain healthy skin. Since many things can cause an outbreak, you can do a patch test or blood test to identify your triggers. Lastly, always consult your dermatologist if you experience moderate to severe symptoms.