Allergens You May Not Be Aware Of

In the allergy world, we are pretty savvy as to pollen, dust mites, mold, but this article from CNN Health brings to light some allergens that you may not be aware of…and yes, we treat those too! If it looks like a rash and it itches, it just might Contact Dermatitis which is an allergic response that stems from someone touching something or coming into contact with an allergen.

Allergies are caused by an overreaction of your immune system to substances that you may inhale, ingest, or contact. The mechanisms of these reactions can vary but all reactions involve parts of the immune system. Contact allergy is due to reactions involving a part of your immune system (T lymphocytes) to a wide variety of naturally occurring and man-made substances one contacts in day-to- day living. The most common contact allergen is the metal, nickel, which is present in most jewelry and metal products including belt buckles, watches, and snaps on blue jeans. Reactions typically involve a localized itchy, scaly rash at the point of contact, i.e. earlobes, wrist, mid abdomen. If one is allergic to nickel from contact sensitivity (jewelry, snaps, etc), a generalized scaly, itchy dermatitis can develop when ingesting foods which contain large amounts of naturally occurring nickel, particularly beans and peas.

Other common contact allergens surprisingly include some topical medications including topical antibiotics (neomycin), topical antihistamine (Benadryl) and even topical steroids. Again, typical reactions are itchy, scaly rashes with actual worsening of the dermatitis (skin inflammation) for which the creams were originally used. Rubber products including handles on kitchen appliances or rubber on escalators can cause similar contact dermatitis. A variety of chemicals are used in nail and hair dye products and these chemicals are common causes of contact dermatitis associated with artificial nails and dying hair. Allergic Contact Dermatitis (ACD) can be diagnosed by your board certified allergist with a thorough history and patch testing.