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Common skin allergies

What is it?

Common skin allergies include eczema, contact dermatitis, hives and allergic dermatitis.

Who is affected?

Skin allergies affect many Americans. In 1997, contact dermatitis and other eczema were diagnosed at over 8.5 million physician office visits and 499,000 hospital outpatient visits. Hives affects 10 to 20 percent of the general population at some time in their lives, and allergic dermatitis is the most common skin condition in children younger than 11 years of age1,2.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of these common skin conditions include itching (contact dermatitis, hives), itchy rashes (eczema and allergic dermatitis), oozing blisters (eczema), and swelling and redness (hives).

What can I do to prevent and treat it?

Take steps to reduce your exposure to allergens:

  • Vacuum and dust regularly.
  • Remove carpets from bedrooms and use throw rugs.
  • Use zippered, dust- proof covers for pillows, mattresses and box springs.
  • Confine the areas that pets are allowed in and groom them outdoors.
  • Avoid smoke from any sources.
  • Dry clothes in a clothes dryer on a high setting.
  • Stay indoors when mold spore and pollen counts are at a peak.
  • Use an air cleaner with a HEPA filter.
  • Wash off after outdoor activity to avoid bringing allergens into your home.

The following are examples of OTC medications that can be used to treat the symptoms of skin allergies:

Symptom relief Helpful medications Active ingredients* to look for in generic and name brand OTC products

Hives, rash (urticaria)

Antihistamine Loratadine
Example: Alavert®

Diphenhydramine HCL
Example: Benadryl Allergy®

Insect bites and stings (where there is mild to moderate itching and no complications)

Antihistamine

Diphenhydramine
(tablet, spray)

Acetaminophen, Chlorpheniramine Maleate

* Active ingredients: ingredients in a medication that produce a therapeutic response


Sources:

1 United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital and Health Statistics, Series 13, no. 143. 1997.
2 Horan, R.F., Schneider, L.C., Sheffer, A.L. "Allergic Disorders and Mastocytosis," Journal of the American Medical Association. (1992) 268:2858- 2868.

Note: This information is intended to provide readers with health information. The information provided is not a substitute for consultation with a healthcare provider. Brand names included on this Web page are provided for examples only. Their inclusion does not mean that they are endorsed by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.

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