Skin irritations are caused by a variety of factors. These include heat, immune system disorders, medications and infections. When an allergen is responsible for triggering an immune system response, the irritation is an allergic skin condition. Allergic contact dermatitis occurs when your skin comes in direct contact with an allergen. For instance, if you have a nickel allergy and your skin comes in contact with jewelry made with even a very small amount of nickel, you may develop red, bumpy, scaly, itchy or swollen skin at the point of contact.
Atopic dermatitis (eczema) is a chronic skin condition related to immune disfunction in the layers of the skin. It usually begins in infancy or early childhood. It is often associated with asthma, allergic rhinitis (hay fever) or food allergy. This progressive sequence is called the atopic march.
Urticaria (hives) is an inflammation of the skin triggered when the immune system releases histamine, causing small blood vessels to leak and leading to swelling in the skin. Swelling in deep layers of the skin is called angioedema. Hives can result from non-allergic causes such as heat or exercise. Hives can also be an allergic reaction to medications, foods or insect bites.
Skin conditions are one of the most common forms of allergy treated and managed by an allergist.