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Skin allergies are common, utterly annoying, and sometimes hard to get rid of. Skin allergies are different from the types of allergies that you see an allergist about. Instead of coming from pollen, dander, and dust etc., skin allergies come from things that you come in contact with. At your board-certified dermatologist’s office, sometimes your doctor will do a procedure called patch testing to determine what you are allergic to and give you specific advice about how to avoid similar allergic skin rashes in the future.

Common skin allergies & rashes:

Poison Ivy

About 50% of people are allergic to poison ivy, so about half of the population who comes in contact with it does not get a rash. The poison ivy allergen is a sticky oil found on the leaves. If you come in contact with it (sometimes even the wind blowing the oil off the leaves and onto your skin is enough) and you are allergic, you can stop a reaction if the sticky oil is washed off within 24 hours. The oil is sticky and must be scrubbed off thoroughly (you cannot see it so you need to scrub all affected areas). To make things easier, there are special soaps and cleansers you can buy (without a prescription) at your local pharmacy to remove the oil with less scrubbing. After 24 hours, the poison ivy rash causing oil will stick to the skin for up to 3 weeks, so rashes can appear up until that time.

If you do get a rash, you can treat the symptoms with cool moisturizers, aloe, or cool showers. Depending on the severity of your reaction, you may need to visit your dermatologist for prescription medications. Allergies to poison ivy is not on the allergen patch test performed at your dermatologist’s office.

Some common allergens Dermatologist’s test for with allergy patch testing

Neosporin®

Did you know that you can be allergic to Neosporin®? In fact, it’s pretty common. Neomycin is the ingredient that causes the reaction; although, you can be allergic to other kinds of topical antibiotics as well. If you find you are getting a rash after using it and feel you are allergic to Neomycin or any other antibiotics, you should discontinue use immediately and consult with your dermatologist.

Ingredients in Hair Dyes

Dying your hair is always a fun change, but it can have unfortunate consequences. For one, you can actually be allergic to the dye itself. If you find that your scalp is itchy, burning, red, or inflamed, please make an appointment to check for an allergy at your dermatologist’s office. Hair dye allergies can last several weeks if not treated, depending on how long the dye colors the hair.

Clothing Dyes

You should always wash your clothes before wearing them. Some unwashed articles of clothing can have residual dye that can be transferred to other things like purses, car seats, couches, shirts, etc. This inevitably means that this loose dye can also transfer to your skin and cause an allergic reaction. Wash your new clothes in a detergent that doesn’t irritate your skin before wearing them.

Laundry Soap, Regular Soaps, Lotions, and Fabric Softener

Have you ever found that you’ve been really itchy after you’ve washed your clothes or sheets? An allergic reaction to laundry soaps can be caused by the surfactant in the detergent, added chemicals, or the fragrances. If you find that you are allergic to your laundry soap or fabric softener, switch immediately and re-wash all of your laundry.

The same is true for soaps and lotions. There are many potential ingredients in them that you can be allergic too. And many of these soaps and lotions contain similar potential allergen ingredients. Allergy patch testing at your dermatologist’s office can tell you which specific ingredients you may be allergic to and which ones you will have to avoid in the future.

If you find that you have sensitive skin and want to know more about how you can avoid and treat reactions, schedule a consult with Dr. Green at (301) 610-0663 or you can request your appointment online!

The information contained in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute professional medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about the best treatment for you.

The information contained in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute professional medical advice.

Aesthetic & Dermatology Center