An allergy is more than just a skin rash or a runny nose. It occurs when your body’s immune system reacts to certain foreign substances, called allergens, thereby causing mild to severe symptoms.
There isn’t a cure for most allergies, however, there are treatments that can help relieve harmful symptoms and prevent it from getting worse. In this article, we’ll answer some of the most common questions relating to allergies and hope to put your mind at ease.
1. What are some conditions caused by allergies?
Allergic rhinitis, eczema and anaphylaxis are some conditions caused by allergies.
Allergic rhinitis affects about 40% of Singaporeans, and up to half of Singaporean children aged four to 17 years old. It’s mainly triggered by dust, dust mites, mould or pet dander, causing symptoms such as sneezing, blocked nose, runny nose and skin rash.
Allergic eczema occurs when your skin comes into contact with an allergen, thereby producing an itchy or painful skin rash. It usually doesn’t appear right away, sometimes taking up to 24 or 48 hours to develop. Common allergens include certain chemicals, creams, soaps, nickel, dyes and perfumes.
Anaphylaxis is a fatal allergic attack that results in the swelling of air passages and skin rash. When this occurs, your blood pressure will drop and your air passages will become narrow, causing breathing difficulties, dizziness and nausea. It occurs almost immediately when exposed to the allergen and can be life-threatening if not given emergency medical help.
2. What are some common allergens?
Look out for common allergens at home, your child’s school or play areas. Below is a list of some common allergens to watch out for:
- Dust mites
- Pet fur
- Cigarette smoke
- Certain soaps and cleaning products
- Certain medications
3. What are the risk factors associated with allergies?
Children are more likely to develop allergies compared to adults, and those who have a family history of allergies have an even higher risk.
Besides genetics, a weakened immune system can increase the risk of an allergic attack. For example, when your body is exposed to an allergen after a viral infection, you may be more prone to getting allergic reactions.
4. What symptoms might I experience during an allergic attack?
Your symptoms may vary based on the type of allergic attack and how severe it is. For example, if you have a skin allergy and your skin is exposed to an allergen, you may get a skin rash. However, you might experience a runny nose if you have allergic rhinitis.
Here are some common symptoms associated with allergies:
- Sneezing, runny or blocked nose
- Itchy, red or watery eyes
- Wheezing, coughing or tightness of chest
- Itchy, red or painful rash
- Red, dry or cracked skin
5. What should I do if I experience the above symptoms?
If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, or suspect an allergic reaction, please avoid self-medicating and consult a doctor to get the appropriate diagnosis and treatment. If left untreated, allergies can worsen overtime and cause more harm to your body. With Doctor Anywhere’s app, you can video consult Singapore-registered doctors within minutes and get medications delivered to your doorstep. Click here to seek medical help today.
Symptoms such as difficulty breathing, wheezing or fainting, that may or may not occur with skin rash and stomach pain, are signs of an anaphylactic shock. Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency and can be life-threatening if not treated quickly. If someone is experiencing this condition, dial 995 to call for an ambulance immediately.