A rash is a change in the normal appearance or feel of your skin. A rash may be painful or itchy, and it might make your skin red, bumpy, dry, cracked, blistered, swollen or warm.
A rash can be caused by many different things, like a food allergy to milk or eggs. Sometimes it’s hard to know whether your rash is a sign of an allergic reaction or something else.
Eczema, contact dermatitis and hives are three common kinds of skin rashes that may be related to allergies.
Eczema frequently appears as dry, red, cracking and itchy skin. If you have eczema, you may also experience small bumps that ooze a clear or yellowish fluid.
Contact dermatitis is an allergic skin reaction to an irritant or allergen. The reaction can appear as a rash, blisters, burning or itching.
Hives are red, itchy welts or bumps that don’t usually last long. Hives lasting less than six weeks are usually caused by an allergic reaction or a viral infection. They may appear on different parts of the body but usually last 24 hours or less.
Eczema flare-ups can be triggered by contact with allergens like animal dander, irritants like coarse fabric, or household products like detergents and cleaners. Being too hot, too cold, stressed or ill can also trigger an eczema outbreak.
Contact dermatitis can be triggered by skin contact with a variety of allergens or irritants. Plants like poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac are common triggers. Household products like hair dyes, cosmetics, soaps and lotions can also trigger contact dermatitis. Nickel, common in jewelry, is another common material that can cause an allergic reaction. Natural rubber latex, leather and medications that you put on your skin, can also be triggers.
Hives can be triggered by insect stings or bites; contact with allergens like latex, chemicals, animals, plants or cosmetics; or ingestion of foods or medications.
It can be difficult to identify what triggered your rash. Allergists are trained specialists who can help you identify the source of your allergic reaction and develop a treatment plan to help you find relief.
How to Get Tested
Many irritants and allergens can cause itchy and uncomfortable skin rashes. Getting tested by a board-certified allergist can help you identify your specific triggers and find relief. Your allergist will review your symptoms and take a detailed medical history to identify likely causes before beginning your tests.
Allergy testing is the first step in getting allergy rash treatment. Skin testing is fast and accurate, and it is considered the gold standard for allergy testing. If you have severe eczema or are on certain medications, your allergist may conduct blood testing in addition to or instead of skin testing.
Your allergist will use your medical history and your test results to identify specific triggers and how to treat your allergy symptoms, and help you find relief.