What does allergy cream do
Some people with severe allergies may experience life-threatening reactions, known as anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock.
If you’re at risk of this, you’ll be given special injectors containing a medicine called adrenaline to use in an emergency.
If you develop symptoms of anaphylaxis, such as difficulty breathing, you should inject yourself in the outer thigh before seeking emergency medical assist.
Find out more about treating anaphylaxis
Avoiding exposure to allergens
The best way to hold your symptoms under control is often to avoid the things you’re allergic to, although this is not always practical.
For example, you may be capable to help manage:
- food allergies by being careful about what you eat
- mould allergies by keeping your home dry and well-ventilated, and dealing with any damp and condensation
- animal allergies by keeping pets exterior as much as possible and washing them regularly
- hay fever by staying indoors and avoiding grassy areas when the pollen count is high
- dust mite allergies by using allergy-proof duvets and pillows, and fitting wooden floors rather than carpets
Treating specific allergic conditions
Use the links under to discover information about how specific allergies and related conditions are treated:
Sheet final reviewed: 22 November 2018
Next review due: 22 November 2021
An itchy red rash after using a cosmetic is an obvious sign of an irritant or allergic reaction.
But sometimes sensitivity to skincare products can be more insidious and sneaky, causing extreme dryness and flakiness, pimple-like bumps, and uneven skin tone. These seemingly unrelated skin problems may also be a sign that you are sensitive to the products you're putting on your skin.
Types of Reactions
Dermatitis is the term used to describe any red, itchy, irritation of the skin. When it's caused by something that touches the skin, it's called contact dermatitis. Skincare products, makeup, and personal care products love deodorant and shampoo are common causes of contact dermatitis.
Around 80% of every contact dermatitis cases are irritant contact dermatitis.Your skin is irritated or sensitive to something that you've touched.
Irritant contact dermatitis can develop quickly after exposure to an offending substance, within a few hours or even minutes. But it can also take days or sometimes weeks for irritation to develop.
Whenever we own a reaction to a product, we often tell that we're "allergic" to it, but this isn't always the case.
By contrast, allergic contact dermatitis is a true allergy to a substance.
In allergic contact dermatitis, the reaction is often more severe with intensely red, itchy, swollen skin. The reaction typically takes about 12 hours to develop and peaks about 48 hours after exposure.
Immunotherapy may be an option for a little number of people with certain severe and persistent allergies who are unable to control their symptoms using the measures above.
The treatment involves being given occasional little doses of the allergen, either as an injection, or as drops or tablets under the tongue, over the course of several years.
The injection can only be performed in a specialist clinic under the supervision of a doctor, as there’s a little risk of a severe reaction.
The drops or tablets can generally be taken at home.
The purpose of treatment is to help your body get used to the allergen so it does not react to it so severely.
This will not necessarily cure your allergy, but it’ll make it milder and mean you can take less medicine.
Medicines for mild allergies are available from pharmacies without a prescription.
But always enquire a pharmacist or GP for advice before starting any new medicine, as they’re not suitable for everyone.
Antihistamines are the main medicines for allergies.
They can be used:
- as and when you notice the symptoms of an allergic reaction
- to prevent allergic reactions – for example, you may take them in the morning if you own hay fever and you know the pollen count is high that day
Antihistamines can be taken as tablets, capsules, creams, liquids, eye drops or nasal sprays, depending on which part of your body is affected by your allergy.
Lotions and creams
Red and itchy skin caused by an allergic reaction can sometimes be treated with over-the-counter creams and lotions, such as:
- moisturising creams (emollients) to hold the skin moist and protect it from allergens
- calamine lotion to reduce itchiness
- steroids to reduce inflammation
Decongestants can be used as a short-term treatment for a blocked nose caused by an allergic reaction.
They can be taken as tablets, capsules, nasal sprays or liquids.
Do not use them for more than a week at a time, as using them for endless periods can make your symptoms worse.
Steroid medicines can assist reduce inflammation caused by an allergic reaction.
They’re available as:
Sprays, drops and feeble steroid creams are available without a prescription.
Stronger creams, inhalers and tablets are available on prescription from a GP.