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Ask the Doctor: What Causes Sudden Skin Allergies?

Uncomfortable rashes that appear out of nowhere are one of the most common complaints that send people to their dermatologist’s offices – or to their bathroom mirror in search of a cause.
The culprit, says NDDA’s Dr. Corinne Erickson, is often a product you use every day. And the cause – as well as the cure – is literally at your fingertips.
Something old may be at fault more often than something new.
When you see a rash, it is easy to focus first on any new products that you have used recently which could be the culprit. Typically, people don’t consider that the products they have loved and used for years may suddenly betray their skin and cause allergic contact dermatitis.
Over time, we can become sensitized to substances that we come into contact with on a daily basis before our immune systems launch a visible allergic response. But while the irritation may seem sudden, it is likely an allergy has been building for some time. It is the same reaction that occurs with poison ivy, but it can be caused by anything from your favorite facial moisturizer, to material in your shoes, or even something like your hair dye.
Allergies and irritations can be easily confused, and your dermatologist can give you answers.
If you’ve got even mild skin irritation, we need to find the cause of the reaction before we can decide what to do. First, we need to rule out irritant contact dermatitis – that happens when a product is too harsh, or when you’ve accidentally touched some substance (the irritant) that is now wrecking havoc on your skin. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between an irritant and an allergy, but your dermatologist is trained to spot signs of each, so an office visit might be the first step. Talk with one of the dermatologists at NDDA to help you assess whether you are experiencing irritation or a true allergy. Once you have that information, you can start making decisions to help you keep your skin in the clear.
If you suspect a certain product, bag it and bring it, do not bag it and trash it.
Before you go to the huge expense of throwing away and replacing every cosmetic and personal care product in your bathroom, take some time to figure out where your allergy is really coming from.
These days there are so many serums, oils, lotions and other products on the market, and they all have ingredient lists that are long and complicated. Considering that we slather on multiple products in a day, it can be impossible to figure out which may be causing a problem on our own. Any one of the hundreds of substances touching your skin could be causing your allergy. Luckily, we have a great solution to that problem. It is called patch testing, and it is an easy allergy test we can give you to figure out exactly which cosmetic ingredients are causing your problem.
In fact, don’t throw anything away because we can even test for allergic reaction to your personal products.  Have lip dermatitis?  Bring in your lip gloss.  Are eyelids itchy?  We will patch test you to your eye makeup.  We have the ability to test you for allergies to over 80 substances that have been shown to cause allergic contact dermatitis.  If you have a positive reaction to one or more of these allergens, we can educate you about what products you can use, and which products to clear out of your cabinet.
Why should I do a comprehensive skin allergy test?
Problems can develop anytime, especially for people with eczema and other sensitivities, so it is important to know and understand your own skin. With patch testing, we can give you a personalized list of ingredients to avoid.
It is a great tool to have – obviously, to prevent allergic reactions – but also to take good long-term care of yourself. Allergic reactions come on acutely, but if they are not diagnosed and if you don’t avoid the things that cause them, they can become a chronic problem.
All of the dermatologists at NDDA are now offering personalized patch testing. Give us a call at 214-301-5078 to schedule a skin maintenance check-up appointment.

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North Dallas Dermatology Associates8144 Walnut Hill Lane Suite 1300
Dallas Texas 75231
Fax: (214) 420-7380


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