Allergies and the skin

The skin is the body’s largest organ and is constantly exposed to different substances in the environment. Sometimes though, things like detergents, dust, pollen, heat, food or soap can trigger an allergic reaction or sensitised response on the skin, such as dermatitis – a form of eczema.

These skin inflammations cause itching, burning and redness and can appear in one area or all over, the body. A full-blown allergic reaction takes anything from six to 48 hours to appear, whereas a sensitised response generally occurs as soon as the irritant comes in contact with the skin.

Your skin under attack

Think of it in terms of war. The first line of defence against antigens is the protective skin barrier, known as the acid mantle, which needs to be kept hydrated. If an antigen gets through the barrier, then the sentry guards, known as the Langerhans cells, get to work. If this doesn’t stop the antigen in its tracks, then the armed guards come out and the macrophage cells try their luck. After this the troops known as the lymphocytes, the white blood cells, try to stop the invasion. This process creates the redness and swelling you see.

To soothe irritated inflamed skin look for products with either oatmeal or rosehip- both which help to calm down skin. Dermalogica’s Ultra Calming Serum concentrate is excellent as well as Balance Me’s Rose Otto Facial Oil. Also reduce dairy intake- there is a link between allergy prone skin and excess dairy. Likewise try to reduce stress – try a yoga class or meditation.

By Mandy Oxley Swan

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