Allergies and rashes can be the result of infections, exposure to irritants or reactions to food or drugs. Due to the range of potential causes, these conditions can sometimes be difficult to diagnose.
Allergic reactions occur when your immune system erroneously identifies a harmless substance as an invader and mounts an attack. This is different from intolerances such as lactose intolerance, in which you experience symptoms without an immune reaction. Having asthma makes you more susceptible to developing allergies.
Rashes can manifest in response to pathogens, such as in the case of contagious impetigo in children or shingles in the elderly; as the result of an allergy, including contact dermatitis; or as isolated conditions. Common rashes include psoriasis, eczema, rosacea and a chronic condition known as urticaria.
An allergic reaction may present with one or more symptoms that vary in severity depending on the cause:
Skin rashes share symptoms such as:
• Peeling skin
• Red patches or bumps
• Spreading from one area to another
To diagnose specific allergies or rashes, your doctor will consider the type and combination of symptoms. He or she will ask about potential environmental, dietary or drug-related triggers and may perform a culture or biopsy if you’re having a skin reaction.
Seasonal allergies are usually treated with a combination of antihistamine or steroid medications and home remedies. Nasal irrigation is a popular method for clearing congestion. Air filtration systems can help reduce potential allergens in the home. The best treatment for food and drug allergies is avoidance of the offending substances.
Rashes are treated based on the underlying cause. Oral medications, injections, and topical creams are all available to clear infections and ease symptoms. General irritation may be treated using over-the-counter moisturizers.
Severe, sudden or unusual reactions require immediate medical treatment. Individuals experiencing anaphylaxis should be given a shot of epinephrine and taken to the nearest emergency room or urgent care center.