So many of us have experienced the uncomfortable, unwanted surprise of an allergic reaction from something we’ve applied to our skin. Irritated skin can be downright frustrating, and caused by a variety of factors – including medications, topical irritants, infections, and immune system disorders. When an allergen is responsible for triggering an immune system response, it is considered an allergic skin condition; these can range from very minor skin irritations all the way to full-fledged allergic reactions. Yikes!
When the skin is reacting to something cosmetic, it can be considered one of two things: irritant contact dermatitis or allergic contact dermatitis. It can be hard to distinguish between these two types of reactions, however – and to make matters worse, a reaction can be a combination of both!
Allergic contact dermatitis involves your immune system, and symptoms include redness, inflammation, itching, and sometimes even hives. Your skin can appear very inflamed and feel sensitive. You can experience an allergic contact dermatitis reaction on any part of your body, but it normally appears on the upper part of the body (such as the face, neck and ears.) What should you do? Call the doctor and stop using the product(s) right away!
Irritant dermatitis is dangerous because it can cause long-term damage to the skin. Symptoms of intense burning and stinging can occur. The skin can appear red and irritated. In severe cases, skin blisters with pus can appear – especially if you’re scratching. The reaction and spot of irritation can happen anywhere on the body that the product was placed. What should you do? Again, call the doctor and stop using the product(s) right away!
However, keep in mind that not all reactions are bad reactions. It’s okay to feel a little tingling after using an exfoliator, or notice a flushed pink color after applying a mask. What you don’t want is swelling, burning, bumps or noticeable irritation. If that happens, then the most important thing you can do is stop using the product(s) causing the reaction right away. This alone may fix the problem, but making an appointment to check in with your doctor is a good idea as well. In most cases, an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream can help ease inflammation and reduce itching – but in some cases, you’ll need a prescription-strength treatment cream to overcome the problem.
Typically, the main culprits that cause skin reactions are artificial fragrances and preservatives. Also typically, fragrances are comprised of drying chemicals and synthetic irritants; meanwhile, mainstream preservatives like parabens, Imidazolidinyl, Diazolidinyl and formaldehyde have all been linked to skin allergies. Look for products that are unscented or fragrance-free to help reduce the chance of a reaction.
If you feel that you react frequently to skin care products, consider trying the MyChelle Pure Harmony Sensitive line – which is super gentle yet inspiringly effective. Specifically created to ease inflammation, reduce redness and minimize irritation, our Pure Harmony products restore the skin’s resistance to environmental aggressors while also replenishing vital nutrients and reducing puffiness and swelling.
Catie Wiggy is the Innovative Programs Manager for MyChelle Dermaceuticals. She has been working in the skin care industry for over 10 years as a makeup artist and licensed esthetician. She holds several certifications in esthetics and has hands-on experience with chemical peels, microdermabrasions, acne management and anti-aging treatments.