Allergy diagnoses are on the rise in the UK, with about 40% of the population now being affected. Common allergies include allergic rhinitis (hay fever), asthma, eczema and food allergies. Other allergies can include reactions to specific allergens such as insect bites and medicines.
One in five children and one in ten adults in the UK have eczema, while eczema and contact dermatitis account for around 90% of occupational skin diseases.
What is an allergy?
An allergy is when a person has a reaction to a substance to which the person has become sensitised. The substance that has caused the allergic reaction is known an allergen (such as animal skin, dust, chemicals, pollen or certain foods.)
Many allergens are not harmful in themselves, but they can cause the body to overreact in a person which is sensitive to them.
Who can get an allergy?
Although a lot of research has been done in the area of allergies, there is no straight answer available as to why some people develop allergies and others don’t.
Certain factors, such as family history, can mean it is more likely that a person will develop some form of allergy. So, children who are born into a family with a history of allergies are more likely to develop allergies themselves. However, a specific allergy is not passed on – so if you have hay fever your child may not necessarily develop it. It just means that your child may develop an allergy of some sort, such as eczema.
What is eczema?
The NHS states that eczema is “a condition that causes the skin to become itchy, dry and cracked.”
Eczema is not a contagious disease so you can not catch it from anyone else. It is a highly individual condition that comes in many different forms and varies from person to person.
Most mild cases of eczema present themselves as dry, scaly, red and itchy skin. If the case is more severe then there can be bleeding, crusting and weeping. Constant scratching of the irritated skin can cause it to split and bleed, and also leaves it open to infection.
What causes eczema?
There is currently little clinical evidence of exactly what triggers eczema, although the clinical observations of dermatologists and the experiences of people suffering from eczema indicate that there can be a number of culprits including house dust mites, pollen, chemicals and perfume.
Can I test for eczema triggers?
While there is no specific test for eczema triggers, you can use the Test2Go Allergy Test to determine if the symptoms you are presenting are related to an allergy.
The Test2Go Allergy Test is a simple and reliable finger prick blood spot health check you can do at home to show if your allergy antibody levels (immunoglobulin E) are normal or high.
Allergies are a major trigger of eczema, and people with allergy sensitivities can produce high levels of allergy antibodies in their blood, known as an immunoglobulin (IgE).
It is important to understand that not everyone with allergies will have a high total IgE level.
What should I do if my test result is positive?
If you are suffering from symptoms of eczema and you get a positive result with the Test2Go Allergy Test, then you may benefit from further testing by your doctor to determine what the specific trigger might be.