If you think you know which allergies you have—or don’t have—think again. Allergies can come and go throughout a person’s life. Many adults develop allergies to environmental factors they had no trouble with when they were a child. One of the most common forms of an “allergy” is allergic contact dermatitis. It is a skin condition diagnosed in patients of all ages, but many adults go weeks, months, or even years before seeking out a diagnosis. Over time, a person can become sensitized to a potential allergen, even if it has been present in their environment for a long time.
Unsurprisingly, it can be challenging to determine the issue. Allergens can be nearly anything, including chemicals. Patients might have been exposed to the allergen during their entire life without any problems until a certain point. Nobody knows why a person might suddenly develop allergic contact dermatitis, but it is important to isolate the problem in order to avoid future contact and treat side effects.
Fortunately, Spectrum Dermatology treats allergies in a variety of ways. First and foremost, we work with patients to pinpoint the allergen and determine the underlying cause. Many time, allergies present with itchy, inflamed, red skin and understand the cause will facilitate treatment. Specifically, allergic contact dermatitis often presents as a rash, redness, or other irritation. Mild cases are often annoying and aesthetically displeasing, but not necessarily dangerous. In more severe cases, allergic contact dermatitis can be life-threatening.
Patients might mistakenly self-diagnose this condition as sensitive skin, hay fever, or simply being stressed or over-worked. However, unlike other types of allergies such as an allergic reaction to pollen, allergic contact dermatitis is caused by a direct skin encounter with the allergen. Identifying the allergen means it can often be avoided in the future, unlike grass or pollen. However, some allergens—particularly chemical allergens—might be found in nearly every commercial product. Quick allergen identification is critical because the severity of the allergy can increase quickly and dramatically. There has been an increase in the diagnosis of allergic contact dermatitis in recent years, and some experts suggest this is due to the large increase in chemicals in nearly every product and food.
Some of the most common causes of allergic contact dermatitis are rubber, latex, nickel, perfumes and cologne, preservatives, and a variety of plants like poison oak and poison ivy. An array of chemicals can also be allergens. Many of these materials may be in products used daily, but aren’t obvious. For example, nickel is used to harden many types of jewelry, including some types of gold.
Do you suspect you are having an allergic reaction? Do you have unexplained rashes, red areas, or hives? It might be allergic contact dermatitis. Contact Spectrum Dermatology today at (480) 948-8400 to schedule an evaluation to determine the cause of your allergic reaction and get proper treatment.