Articles on skin allergy

Skin Conditions Associated With Food Allergies

Dr. Rashmi Joshi, Dermatologist
‘Allergy’ in simple language is an exaggerated reaction of our immunity to a substance that is otherwise harmless. Food allergy is a condition that occurs when your body cannot tolerate some specific food proteins. Common food allergy causing agents are eggs, milk, soy, peanuts, fish, wheat, etc. When an allergy-causing agent is consumed for the first time, the immune system responds to it by generating specific antibodies. However, when the same allergen is consumed again, these antibodies release histamine to fight against the allergic substance much quicker and this histamine affects the skin, respiratory system, and other systems of the body.Urticaria/hivesSkin condition due to food allergy can be in the form of skin rash or hives also known as urticaria. Urticaria are typically red, swollen, itchy and sometimes stingy too. Due to the allergic reaction, swelling may appear under the skin, known as angioedema, which is generally associated with hives, but can occur on its own too. The swelling is generally seen around the eyes and lips and at times can even affect hands, feet and throat. A severe allergic reaction is rare and is a medical emergency, as the person could go into an anaphylactic shock, which can be fatal. Anaphylactic shock is characterized by difficulty in breathing due to intense swelling within the throat along with other symptoms of allergy.EczemaAnother common skin condition associated with food allergies is eczema. There is a strong correlation between the two. It has been seen that infants with eczema have a tendency of developing food allergy later in life. Occasionally, some food items have also been known to trigger eczema. It is very difficult to pinpoint a particular food item that may be causing an allergic reaction as our diet includes varied ingredients. The doctor may advise to stay away from general allergy-causing food items so as to rule them out. In addition,a blood test can also be performed to check for levels of antibodies that can be related to specific food allergies. The doctor may perform an allergy skin test, alsocalled a scratch test, to identify the substances that are causing your allergysymptoms.Management of skin conditionsThe best treatment for food allergies is to stay away from allergy-causing food items. However, when suffering from an allergy, keep in mind that mild rashes subside on their own. Do not scratch these rashes. You can apply cold water or rub ice on hives for instant relief. Besides, oral antihistamines help in relieving itching and congestion. In case of severe reactions, corticosteroids, like prednisone, help in reducing swelling. In fatal conditions, like anaphylactic shock,an epinephrine injection should be given immediately to reverse the symptoms. In case of eczema, withdrawal of allergen alone does not help, medications and local applications are needed for complete treatment.

How Exactly Do You Define Allergies?

Dr. K R Bharath Kumar Reddy, Pulmonologist
Allergy is the exaggerated reaction of the body of an individual to substances that are generally harmless to most people. This reaction is brought about by the body's immune system. The body immediately produces chemicals in response to these particles which result in the various symptoms of allergy.   These foreign particles which trigger the reactions are known as 'allergens' and the tendency to develop these reactions is called as 'atopy'. The individual is usually genetically predisposed to react in such an inappropriate way to these foreign particles, and not everyone exposed to these will react the same way. Allergies can affect any part of the body, however, the most common organs involved are the skin, upper airway, lower airway, gastrointestinal tract and eyes.In a predisposed person, when the allergen first enters the body, the body first produces a substance called 'IgE antibody'. This binds to immune cells called the 'Mast cells' and stimulates them to release inflammatory substances. Now the person is considered 'sensitized' to this allergen. When this person is exposed again to the same allergen, these Mast cells immediately recognises it and reacts by producing more inflammatory substances. This is what we call an 'allergic reaction'.Depending on the organ it affects, people with allergy can present with red and watery eyes, recurrent colds and blocked nose, cough and wheezing, skin rashes or vomiting. Hence it is important to identify the allergic reaction and treat it with medicines which reduced this inflammatory reaction of the body.It is also important to identify which allergens cause these problems with a allergy test so that avoiding them can prevent such responses again.

Understanding Allergy

Dr. Loknath Kumar, General Physician
Introduction to AllergyAllergy is a heightened sensitivity to a foreign substance that causes the body’s defense system to overreact when defending itself. Normally the immune system would react if a harmful substance such as bacteria attacks the body. For people with Allergies,their immune system are working too hard and react with relatively harmless substances such as pollen. The severity of an allergic reaction can vary from mild discomfort to life threatening situation.  AllergenAn Allergen is a substance that can cause   an allergic reaction. Individuals who do not react to the allergen are said to be tolerant, whereas those who react are labelled as Allergic or Atopic individuals.                             Clinical features of AllergyThe spectrum of Allergic reactions is summarized below:Skin: Eczema, Atopic Dermatitis, Psoriasis, Urticaria, AngiodermaEyes: ConjunctivitisNose & Sinuses: Rhinitis, SinusitisGastro-Intestinal Track: Food AllergyLungs: Asthma, BronchitisEntire Body: Anaphylaxis                                                                          Diagnosis of AllergyIgE Mediated Allergic reactions can be diagnosed either by Skin prick test or Blood test IgE.Non-IgE Mediated reactions are diagnosed by avoiding exposure to the allergen followed by re-exposure to the allergen.Management of Allergies & possibilities of Boosting ImmunityConventional: Allergen avoidance, Symptomatic treatment, Allergen Immuno TherapyNatural Therapy: Pranayama / Breathing Exercises, Salt Room Therapy, Light exercise like Walking, Combination of these.Avoidance of the Allergen is the best way of management of Allergies. However, this is practically not possible.Natural Therapies opens up a whole new possibility for patients suffering from Chronic Allergic conditions.

This Festive Season Keep Your Skin Healthy!

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
During festivals such as Diwali, everyone wants to look good. A healthy skin and glowing skin is always on the wish list of every woman irrespective of her age. And on the other hand it is not always possible to rush to saloon again and again. So, here are some easy tips which can be included this festive season for that ultimate glowy skin.Control on sweets doesn’t mean you have to just completely go off from them. Control the portions while consuming your favourite sweets. The other way could be, you can choose some healthier sweets made of jaggery and cottage cheese. Also avoid sweets that are fried. A lot of sweet intake can cause breakouts on your skinGo strict with fried items majorly in festive season.It will not only make you feel bloated and acidic but will leave your skin looking dull. Better to consume more of fruits and vegetables in order to get nourishing skinSleep well - Pre Diwali card parties usually stretch to late nights. Insufficient sleep causes breakouts, inflammation, allergies. So if you really want a glowing skin in Diwali, take a good amount of sleepHydrate your body by drinking enough fluids such as plain water. This habit of yours will always keep your skin supple and acne freeDon’t skip workout - In the hustle bustle of shopping, social gatherings, we tend to skip the workout regime. Continue with your exercise regime as usual without compromising. It will boost your blood circulation and will keep your skin glowing throughout the dayProtect skin from firecrackers - Most firecrackers have high smoke due to magnesium content. These fumes and particles can settle on your skin and can harm you. If your skin is sensitive, it's always better to wrap a scarf on your face while stepping out

Why Is 'Everything Around Me' Adding to My Allergy Woes?

Mrs. Anju Chandna, Yoga and Naturopathy
Allergy sufferers are unanimous on the issue of ‘change of season’. Be it professionals, doctors, businessmen, mothers, teachers, students, grandparents - you name it and everyone thinks that for all their health problems and those of their kin, relating to cough, cold, allergies, fevers, aches etc. the weather is to blame. Poor weather!It’s easy to understand why people blame getting sick on the weather. There are times of year when everyone around us seems to be suffering from some kind of an allergy. It could manifest itself in the form of eczema eruptions on the skin or allergic and dry cough or show up in the form of asthmatic symptoms, or sneezing & sniffling, runny nose, clogged sinuses or itchy skin.But can frequent weather changes between hot/cold days really make people sick? Illnesses occur at all times, at different times in the year, whether in February, May or September but often get attributed to the weather. Now some food for thought. Isn’t it more likely that the infection that you caught beginning of summer was not from the weather but your carelessness to wear a sweater while it was still cold in the evening? Or that the coughing that caught you unawares was not sent from the sky but from the ice cream you had in the beginning of winter? So can we safely believe that allergies are caused by ignoring the indications of the weather, not dressing up appropriately to suit weather conditions or eating something not recommended for you?If the answer is YES, then our life becomes easier. Because then we can surely avoid the allergy by avoiding all triggers that could lead to the allergy. But sadly this is not so simple. The answer is complicated.Occurrence of allergies has been increasing at a phenomenal rate throughout the world. What is it that has catapulted allergy to the position of a global epidemic. Apart from declining air quality and rising pollution levels in many parts of the world, the primary reason that comes to the fore is Lifestyle. We eat fast foods, we eat processed foods, we go to sleep late, we get up late, we sit in our closed office spaces the whole day through, go only to gyms for exercise, worse still we don’t exercise at all and to make matters worse all of this is done in an environment that can easily be termed as ‘stressful’. Are we still looking for reasons to develop an allergy? How is it related to allergy? Let me start in the reverse order with stress. Stress can trigger an allergy and also aggravate it. I will discuss this in greater detail in my next write up.Fast foods are low on water content and vitamins. Eating fast food lowers body immunity like nothing else ever could. Processed foods have chemicals that can trigger allergic reactions in people. Faulty sleeping habits or lack of proper sleep gives less time to the body to repair itself thereby lowering body immunity. Low immunity makes the body more susceptible to allergies. Sitting in closed spaces throughout the day in air-conditioned offices dries out the fluids from the body including the mucous membranes of the nose making it weak so it cannot protect against viruses entering your nasal passages. Not to forget the stress such closed spaces can do to your mind with too much positive ionization all around. And yes Gyms. With everyone sweating profusely, gyms can serve as a haven for all kinds of infection-causing microbes if proper care is not taken to clean the equipment. Exercising in a closed space with barely any inlet for fresh air attracts dust mites and people with sensitive airways might be allergic to it. So what is the solution? The solution lies in fighting not the allergy but the root cause of allergy. In all my write ups about allergy I never forget to mention the fact that allergy is not a disease on its own. It is our body’s reaction to the environment. So lets look for a simple solution to the complex problem of allergy. Start by eating fresh. No saturated fats, no junk food, no excess carbs. Lots of water and fruits so that your system is cleansed of toxins. Sleep is a wonder drug. Its miraculous healing properties for both body and mind are irreplaceable. It’s a stress booster too. Remember allergies and stress go hand in hand. Exercising in gyms is okay but exercising outside in the fresh air is wonderful. The effects of negative ionization cannot be undermined. A walk in the open after a day’s long work is the best tonic for your body and mind. So enhance your body immunity and say goodbye to your allergy woes forever! Salt therapy is an effective therapy for enhancing body immunity by cleansing your lungs the natural way with no side effects!

Taking Care of That Excess Skin

Dr. Harikiran Chekuri
Losing weight is an achievement indeed. You need to put in a lot of effort to reduce that extra flab from your body. But weight loss can be disappointing at times, when you see loose skin hanging around your body which is nearly impossible to get rid of. It’s like winning a war but losing a battle. However there are solutions to this.Here are some very useful but easy tips that can help you to find an answer to that excess skin.Don’t lose much – Yes, you’ve got that right, don’t lose too much weight at one go. Let your body get adjusted to your weight loss regime. This will help your skin retain its elasticity and not shrink rapidly. Take the suggestion of a specialist who can guide you into a perfect weight loss plan that won’t allow your skin to lose its elasticity.Keep your skin hydrated – Drink a lot of water. At least drinking minimum 6 glasses of water is a must. If you can drink more, it’s always better. This allows your skin to remain hydrated and tight. So while you are on your weight loss spree, make sure you drink a plenty or water to prevent the lose skin.Take up weight training – Weight training at least thrice weekly helps building an extra layer of muscles underneath your skin. It is very important if you are on a strict diet. Losing fat from your body often leads to loosening the layer of muscle underneath your skin. Having an extra padding of muscles will restrain sagging skin. Thus, you will never have those ugly sagging skins even after you shed weight drastically.Moisturize your skin – Apply lot of moisturizer that contains Vitamin E. This helps in skin toning and regeneration of new skin cells. You may also use recommended fruit oils or Coconut oils for massaging your skin as well. This will not only tighten up loose skin but also keep the wrinkles away.Belly toning exercise – Most of the sagging skin can be seen around your belly, hips and waist. Hence, it is important to go for belly toning exercises like crunches, air biking, leg rising, sit ups, side bridges and pelvic thrust. These are easy to do workouts that take only 15-20 minutes to perform. Have them in your workout list for at list three to five days of the week.Massage – Get a massage weekly or bi-weekly. This will help in proper blood circulation and add a glow of youth to your skin. You will feel relaxed as your muscles and skin gets toned. Consult a professional and pamper yourself with great body massage.However, the loose skin greatly depends on the individual and may take time to heal. Sometimes even after trying out everything, you fail to get rid of those hanging skin bags. This calls for cosmetic surgery that can help you to get rid of unwanted skin bags completely. Look out for an expert aesthetic surgeon around you for further guidance and assistance.

Enjoy a Beach Holiday!!! Skin Care in Summer for Acne Oily Skin

Dr. Prabha Acharya, Dermatologist
The advantage of having oily skin is that you won’t be getting premature wrinkles but controlling the oil can sometimes be a problem. Here are 9 quick tips to keep your skin oil-free throughout the day.The summer months are harsh on all skin types, but oily skin is more prone to pimples and break-outs. Its appearance becomes greasier making it look dull and lifeless. Summer time should be about fun in the sun, beach holidays and warm lazy brunches. Instead, you worry about blemishes and spots caused by sun damage, dust and grime that your oily skin attracts. Instead of damage control at a later date, take charge & learn how to keep your skin oil free with these simple preventive measures.With a few easy changes to your oily skin care routine, you can avoid hot weather-related side effects on your skin:1. Avoid the sun. Enjoy early morning beach activities and in the evening. The summer sun is your skin’s enemy! Not only does being outdoors in the sun hugely increase oil secretion, but you also end up exposing yourself to the harmful effects of UV rays. During the hours of 10 AM – 3 PM, the sun is at its strongest and most damaging, so have fun filled indoor activities with friends.2. Look for a gentle cleanser. Always test your cleanser before you buy and pick one that removes excessive oil without over drying the skin. 3. Wash your face correctly. Washing oily skin is tricky business as too little can spell disaster with an onslaught of spots while too much can strip your skin of its natural oils. Your T-zone most likely needs frequent washing while your cheeks tend to dry up, so being selective is key. Blotting papers can help you soak up the excess oil in problem areas without over stripping the moisture.4. Invest in a good sunscreen lotion. A water based matte sunscreen is a good choice for oily skin as it helps keep your face shine free and gives you the protection you need. Look for at least SPF 30++ for the best sunscreen effect!5. Go minimal on makeup. While it may feel like you can’t live without your foundation, in summers its best to keep it natural. Foundation and compact powders not only make you look older, but also clog pores. Even the best of foundations for oily skin will get runny when you perspire and adding extra products will only make your skin more prone to pimples. Instead, stick to tinted moisturizers or concealers and use water-based ones.6. Hydrate well. Drink plenty of water and juices so you are hydrated internally. Make sure you moisturise often with a water-based product to keep your skin supple. Whatever the formula, make sure your sunscreen and moisturiser contains oil-reducing salicylic or glycolicacid7. Watch what you eat. Vitamin A rich vegetables like carrots, spinach and so on help slow oil production. Go easy on the alcohol, spicy and fried food as they all dilate blood vessels and compound your oily skin woes. If you are tempted, limit yourself to one drink a night,and eat spicy foods no more than once a week.8. Give your skin some TLC. The best thing about summer skin care are all the fragrant fruity facials. Do your skin a favor and exfoliate with a delicious natural scrub once a week. Make a  cooling, oil-absorbing mask and pamper your skin silly.9. You can also try making a homemade scrub from honey and sugar. This scrub helps exfoliate skin naturally & moisturizes it as well. Be advised not to use any scrub on your face often, as it may dry out your face skin which is not a good thing.

Skin Care and Protection (Mainly for Hands With Eczema/allergy)

Dr. Sandeep Gupta, Dermatologist
Skin Care and Protection1. Wash your hands in lukewarm water. Rinse and dry your hands thoroughly after washingThe skin damaging potential of a detergent is temperature dependent. Warm, soapy water causes more skin irritation than lukewarm or cold soapy water.2. Use protective gloves when starting wet-work tasks  Unprotected wet work is a significant risk factor for the development of skin irritation. Gloves are essential for protecting the skin against water, dirt, detergents,shampoos, and foodstuffs. 3. Protective gloves should be used when necessary but for as short a time as possibleIrritant reactions due to wearing gloves are frequently reported. Prolonged use of gloves leads to impairment of the skin barrier, especially if the skin has previously been exposed to detergents .4. Protective gloves should be intact and clean and dry inside Even a small amount of an irritant may  act as a strong irritant when the skin is occluded. Furthermore, allergens trapped inside a glove could induce sensitization or elicit allergic contact dermatitis in a person already sensitized.5. When protective gloves are used for more than10 min, cotton gloves should be worn underneathWearing a cotton glove inside the protective glove has been shown to protect the skin from deterioration caused by using gloves.6. Do not wear rings at work Eczema often starts under a finger ring. Irritants may become trapped under the ring, causing irritation and irritant contact dermatitis .7. Disinfectants should be used according to the recommendations for the workplaceUse of disinfectants may cause skin irritation followed by irritant contact dermatitis, and was recently reported as a contributory factor for development of hand dermatitis. However, individual factors for each workplace have to be considered.8. Select a lipid-rich moisturizer free from fragrance and with preservatives having the lowest allergen potential, Apply moisturizers on your hands during the working day or after work.Moisturizers have been shown to promote regeneration of barrier-damaged skin. Moisturizers that are rich in lipids promote regeneration faster than those that contain less lipid. Fragrance and preservatives are common causes of allergic reactions to cosmetic products .9. Moisturizers should be applied all over the hands,including the finger webs, fingertips and back of the hand Application of moisturizers to the hands is often incomplete,since many areas are skipped during application .10. Take care also when doing housework, use protective gloves for dishwashing and warm gloves when going outside in winter Development of irritant contact dermatitis is caused by exposure to cumulative irritants, often in low concentrations. Domestic exposure therefore adds to exposure at work. Domestic wet work has been recognised as an important risk factor for the development of hand eczema. During the winter, the skin is more susceptible to irritant exposure.