The Most Common Triggers Of Skin Allergies

An image of a woman turning to her right, showing just her bare shoulder and her long hair covering the side of her face. To the right of the image is the blog post title.

In short, there are many reasons why people might find themselves with skin conditions and allergies. If you can identify a cause, it might be easier to treat the problem and reduce the triggers.

There are various skin conditions that result from internal factors, such the genetic condition Hereditary Angiodema, or due to immune system functionality in the case of hives. With some chronic illnesses, individuals may find their skin is affected in some way. In contrast, allergic contact dermatitis, where the skin comes into contact directly with a triggering allergen, can cause swollen, red, scaly, bumpy or itchy skin.

Rashes and other skin conditions can sometimes be the result of skin allergies. There are many different potential causes of skin conditions, so this collaborative post will take a look at a few of the potential triggers that you may be able to identify and reduce. 

Soaps

Some people suffer allergic contact dermatitis from certain soaps. This can include everything from hand soaps to washing machine detergents.

Steroid creams and anti-itch lotions may be able reduce or eliminate these rashes. Meanwhile, it’s best to avoid regular soaps if they’re problematic and stick to hypoallergenic soaps (these tend to not contain chemicals and scents that are often the trigger for such allergies). When washing up or handling detergents, try wearing rubber gloves.

Metals

There are certain metals such as nickel and gold that can cause rashes, usually as a form of contact dermatitis. People often discover these allergies when wearing certain jewellery causes a problem.

By trying out different metals, you may be able to identify which metals do and don’t cause you irritation. If you find yourself getting a reaction to several types of metal, it could be worth sticking to hypoallergenic jewellery as this is usually made from a material like titanium or surgical steel. Such materials have no or trace amounts of nickel and are usually better tolerated.

Nature

An itchy red allergic contact dermatitis rash can result from contact with different flowers and plants, such as with the oily coating on poison sumac, poison oak or poison ivy. It could be that you touch these directly or that you indirectly come into contact the oil from touching the likes of gardening tools, pets or clothing. Be cautious around such plants and wear gardening gloves if you can’t avoid coming into contact with them. Always wash your hands after being outdoors.

Make-up

Certain chemicals in everyday make-up can cause people to develop rashes or even hives.

Fortunately, there are many specialist hypoallergenic make-up products on the market that don’t contain any of these key chemicals. This website contains a number of skin products designed for people with sensitive skin. You may want to consult your doctor about being prescribed steroid creams or anti-itch lotions if you currently have severe rashes that won’t go away.

Clothing Materials

Some people are known to have reactions to certain clothing materials. This could be a natural material such as cotton or leather, but in most instances it’s an allergy to a specific synthetic material such as latex, polyester or nylon.

By working out the type of material you’re sensitive or allergic to, you can try to avoid repeat reactions by checking the labels on clothing before wearing. If you get allergic reactions to various synthetic materials, it could be worth switching to organic clothing made of materials like cotton, bamboo and hemp.

Medications & Supplements

Different medications can have unwelcome side-effects for some people, from upset stomachs and skin rashes, to the more severe and serious side-effects. The same can be said of supplements, even the natural ones. Everyone responds to such things differently, so it pays to be cautious and keep in mind that side-effects may be a possibility. If you notice anything unusual, please speak to a medical professional immediately.

Pet Allergies

Pet allergies tend to cause a variety of symptoms including itchy eyes, irritated sinuses, a runny nose and wheezing, but they can also cause skin allergies. Cats and dogs are two of the most common animals that can bring out allergic reactions.

Anti-histamines can usually help control these symptoms. It may also be worth investigating pet allergy jabs if you want to keep your pet but are struggling with the associated allergies.

Food Allergies

Food allergies tend to cause swelling and itching in the mouth and an upset stomach, but they can also lead to skin allergies.

In addition to allergies are intolerances, and in some cases keeping a food diary may be helpful in trying to identify any potential triggers.

Eliminating or swapping out this problematic food from your diet will likely resolve or minimise this type of allergy, though it isn’t always easy to identify the cause if it’s a rare and specific ingredient. Some of the most common foods include nuts, fish, eggs and soy. 

A black scroll divider.

As always, if you experience a worrying new rash or worsening of a skin condition, please speak to a pharmacist or GP.

Related : 5 Of The Best Intensive Hand Creams Under £10.

[ This is a collaborative post & as such the ideas expressed here are that of the author ]

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21 Comments

  1. June 12, 2020 / 3:36 pm

    My face is going through some issues. I’m using the most mild of soap and trying different moisturizers. Still nothing helps. I wear no makeup, no pets, and I have no food allergies. It’s a mystery.

    Have a fabulous day and weekend, Caz. Big hug. ♥

    • June 13, 2020 / 3:09 pm

      I’m sorry you’ve been having some issues. My mother has had a few problems with her skin/face; some have been through products but other times we can’t figure out what it might have been. No medicines or supplements, no hayfever, no health issues that can cause skin irritation/rashes? Sometimes these things will forever remain a mystery but I do hope you stumble upon a possible cause or at least that you can find something to help the issues. Take good care of yourself and have a relaxing weekend, Sandee xx

  2. June 12, 2020 / 4:17 pm

    Great article. I have few allergies myself – nickel and plated metals, milk, a very mild tomato allergy and I also reacted badly to plants before too. I came out in hundreds of tiny blisters all over my hands and arms, unfortunately it happened after I had a GoApe! session in the Forest of Dean so there was no way to narrow it down.

    • June 12, 2020 / 4:18 pm

      Also some glitter make-up products! My face felt like it was on fire when I used a glittery eye shadow. 🙁

      • June 13, 2020 / 3:14 pm

        Sounds like there are quite a few things you have to be cautious around, Kim. I’ve reacted to some face creams but on rare occasions, thankfully nothing worse than my face going red and feeling like it was burning up. The blisters from plants sound awful and no, with something like GoApe there was no way to avoid the great outdoors there! I hope similar doesn’t happen to you again. xx

  3. June 12, 2020 / 5:22 pm

    My husband is allergic to everything and has eczema, and the kid is um, sensitive to yellow food dye. Good times.

    • June 13, 2020 / 3:17 pm

      Oh dear, it must be pretty tricky when you’ve got a lot of allergies like your hubby has. Yellow food dye, I imagine that was picked up perhaps after they had a bad reaction? I’ll be honest, I’ve no idea how often that’s used across products but I hope it doesn’t narrow down the food choices too much. xx

  4. June 12, 2020 / 8:18 pm

    Nickle, latex, rubber and fern.

    Contact dermatitis because of the job I do. But since using O’Keeffes hand cream, my hands are back to their best that they ever have been for a long time. So i am really thrilled about that.

    Also a few meds I have reacted to in the past, so that’s on my notes.

    I have reacted to a couple of brands of bath products, or moisturisers in the past.

    • June 13, 2020 / 3:20 pm

      It’s great the O’Keeffes is working so well for you too. I’ve noticed so much benefit from it myself, it definitely does a better job with hardcore healing. I’m sorry you’ve got quite a few things you need to avoid and be cautious around. I’d hope you don’t get any bad reactions to anything ever in the future but it’s not realistic to avoid everything all the time, especially when new products or even current ones can cause a reaction without being known to be a product you’re allergic to. Trial and error and things can still catch you by surprise. xx

  5. June 12, 2020 / 10:07 pm

    I had the most awful skin allergy problem last year caused by the sand flies in Spain! It took forever to find out what was causing it, but I’m fine now! But like you said, it’s always worth popping into to your local pharmacy to ask for an opinion 🙂

    • June 13, 2020 / 3:23 pm

      Sand flies, I never would have thought of those. I know mosquitoes can be problematic in Spain, even though I hadn’t anticipated that so much either in that country (and when my mother and I got horrible marks and rashes down our legs and on our arms we didn’t have a clue what it was!) I’m sorry you reacted so badly to those – has everything healed well, no scars and leftover marks? I don’t know that it’s possible to fully avoid those being a problem if/when you go abroad in future but I hope you don’t get a reaction like that again.xx

  6. June 13, 2020 / 4:28 pm

    Great coverage of the complexity of allergic reactions and skin. Having MCAS, I’ve experienced them all and it can sometimes be quite the adventure figuring out what’s what 😳 You’ve broken it all down nicely and I’m sure it will be a big help in unraveling some mysteries! Xx

    • June 14, 2020 / 4:45 pm

      I’m sorry you’ve had such a nightmare with skin allergies, Mykie. Must be very frustrating not knowing what’s causing what sometimes, I get that sense of annoyance with other symptoms but thankfully not quite as much with skin reactions. Thanks for commenting lovely xx

  7. June 13, 2020 / 6:16 pm

    You did a fabulous job covering all the potential ‘problem children’ when it comes to skin reactions. My poor Hubby has a terrible time when he encounters many plants outside. After he mows the lawn, he’s almost always itchy, and heaven forbid if he even gets close to poison oak/poison ivy! I spreads all over in no time!

    You’ve given people a great place to start looking if they’re having skin issues. Thank you!

    • June 14, 2020 / 5:36 pm

      Your poor hubby, mowing the lawn isn’t fun at the best of times but it sounds like he has a heck of a time with allergies. Maybe he needs a hazmat suit 😉 I hope there’s something that can provide a little relief from all the rashes and itchiness. I’m glad you liked the post, and thank you for commenting.xx

  8. June 14, 2020 / 5:11 am

    Such great points Caz! Skin allergies can be incredibly elusive to pinpoint the cause of. It can be terribly frustrating when you’re desperately trying to locate the culprit and get some relief!

    Back in February, I came in contact with poison ivy as we were digging up our front flower bed. I got it so bad that the medical staff had never seen anything like it. They had to put me on such strong steroidal drugs that I began to bleed internally. (sigh) It was an experience I’ll never ever forget and never wish to repeat! My heart goes out to anyone who ever has or ever will come in contact with poison sumac, ivy or oak. Evil stuff!

    Food allergies are another big cause. Gluten was an issue with me and I didn’t even know it for years. It wasn’t until the damage became really severe that I found out. I am now healed, praise the Lord, but it affected everything – including my skin, terribly. It seems that many things gut related show in the skin. Have you noticed that?

    I’ve shared this as always. Your tips are always ones worth reading & remembering! Praying you are well, Caz. You’re always in my thoughts & prayers! ♥

    • June 14, 2020 / 5:47 pm

      Oh my goodness, Holly, that sounds awful. I’m so sorry you had to go through all of that with poison ivy, it sounds like you had a particularly severe reaction to that. Doesn’t sound like you fared well with the steroids either. I’ve never known anyone who’s experienced internal bleeding from such high doses before either. You poor thing, what a nightmare. Did the steroids work their magic with the reaction to the poison ivy at least? It’s awful when something designed to help you with one problem causes a problem of its own, as was the case with the internal bleeding. I really and truly hope you never come into contact with poison ivy or have a reaction like that to anything else ever again  ♥

      I’m glad you were able to start discovering some of the food allergies and the issue with gluten you had. You’re right, it can be very hard to figure out what’s causing what and I think for many people it can take a long time and a lot of trial and error. I’m really glad you liked the post – thank you so much for another thoughtful comment and for sharing your experiences.xx

      • June 18, 2020 / 11:00 am

        You are so kind! Honestly, your heart is one in a million, Caz. I’m grateful to have ‘met you’ in this wide world of blogging!

        How are you feeling these days? Are you seeing any improvements lately? I know you went through hell recently. 🤗

        You’re right — the poison ivy was a nightmare! It was an experience I’ll never forget. It took a couple of days for the steroids to really kick in but thank God, they did help! They had me taking steroids by pill and also using steroidal creams on my body. I had to mix that with Aveeno lotion and anti-itch creams. I must say though, after the 4 days or so I’d had before that — I was willing to try just about anything!! 🤣 I wouldn’t wish that mess on my worst enemy. Yikes!

        It is my pleasure to comment thoughtfully on your posts, Caz. You really are a brilliant writer and your posts are always fun to read! ♥

  9. June 14, 2020 / 11:18 am

    I’ve had terrible urticaria at different times throughout my life which I’ve had to see the doctor about for prescription meds. We never figured out what caused it but it was a nightmare when it appeared. So so itchy and over the counter creams or anti-histamines did nothing for it. Sometimes our bodies are so mysterious.

  10. June 14, 2020 / 4:20 pm

    Lulu: “I get itchy sometimes when I eat foods with chicken in them. Usually the itchies are around my tail and then I start biting my tail area a lot. In fact I’m doing it right now.”
    Charlee: “TMI, Lulu!”

  11. June 15, 2020 / 1:15 pm

    What a great post! I’m fortunate to not have any known allergies. I steer clear from poison ivy! I’m not sure if I’m allergic to penicillin (My mom is), and I’ve never been stung by a bee/wasp/hornet (My husband is deathly allergic and I’ve been bugging him about an epi-pen for years). The worst that I’ve dealt with is pesky pre-cancerous moles on my back and a few blistering sunburns. I had a funny mole removed for biopsy today, so keep your fingers crossed! I have the fair skin curse.

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