Control the Allergy Itch

The Allergy Link

If you have food allergies, you may be at greatest risk for also having itchiness, according to the experts. The latest statistics reveal that more than a quarter of all children with food allergies also suffer from eczema or a skin allergy. In addition to the discomfort and itchiness it brings, you may also experience a rash or hives or other forms of red and irritated skin.

What's to Blame?

Many itchy spots also occur along with a rash or hives. These are typical skin allergy signs. Three of the most common allergic skin causes that can also create severe itchiness include:

  • Eczema
  • Hives
  • Contact dermatitis


According to estimates by the National Institutes of Health, a total of about 15 million Americans suffer from eczema,[i] which causes areas of red, bumpy skin that can be very itchy and uncomfortable. No one knows exactly what the connection is, but it seems that people with allergies either themselves or in their families are more at risk for this.

If you suffer from eczema, it may be difficult to determine exactly what is triggering your symptoms but some possible culprits can include:

  • Rough, scratchy material against your skin
  • Sweating
  • Soaps, perfumes and detergents
  • Fruit juice
  • Dust mites
  • Animal saliva and danders

While most eczema triggers are topical, it is important to note that occasionally things like upper respiratory infections can also trigger a breakout and stress can make one worse.


Another common form of itchiness is hives, which causes patches of red, raised areas on your body and/or face. This condition can affect about 20 percent of the population at some point in their lives.[ii] The causes can include:

  • An allergic reaction to a food, medication or pet
  • A viral infection
  • Stress

Experts warn that some cases of hives can be accompanied by swelling, which can lead to serious or even life threatening complications.

Contact Dermatitis

If your red, itchy skin is caused by something it touches, you likely have a condition called contact dermatitis.

Some of the types of substances that you can touch that can lead to an outbreak of this rashy condition include:

  • Soaps
  • Cosmetics
  • Jewelry
  • Poison ivy or poison oak

The Itch that Won't Quit

Regardless of the cause of your itch, if you find that the more you scratch the area, the worse the itching feeling gets, then you are experiencing a common phenomenon called the "itch-scratch cycle." [iii] The mechanism of what causes your skin to itch is closely related to what makes you feel pain, so the more you scratch, the worse you can feel, and this cycle can be difficult to break.

Treating the Itch

The best way to resolve true itchiness is to identify the cause of your condition and then take steps to avoid this trigger. While this will minimize your risk for further symptoms, once your rash or hives exist, this alone may not be enough to relieve the discomfort you are already feeling. To treat the symptoms, your doctor may recommend the following[iv]:

  • Moisturizing areas of eczema or extremely dry skin. (Apply directly after a bath for best results.)
  • Use cold compresses to help soothe the itch.
  • Apply topical corticosteroid creams to counter inflammation. (These are available in both over-the-counter and prescription forms. The severity of your symptoms can help dictate which you need.)
  • Take prescribed oral corticosteroids as directly if you have an extremely serious case of itchiness.
  • Use an antihistamine to counter severe itching.

If none of these common treatment approaches are effective, your doctor may suggest other alternatives.


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