What is contact allergy in a child?
Contact allergy in a child is a local reaction to an allergen, usually without systemic symptoms e.g. from the digestive or respiratory system. Characteristic allergic changes appear on the skin, but not always exactly at the place of contact with the sensitizing substance. More broadly speaking, the concept of contact allergy covers more than one disease, such disease entities as: allergic contact dermatitis, allergic contact eczema, contact urticaria, allergic contact stomatitis, conjunctivitis or vaginitis.
How can a contact allergy appear in a child?
The basis of the most common contact reactions in the youngest, allergic contact dermatitis and allergic contact eczema, is a different type of immune reaction than is the case with allergies to certain foods and pollen. It is about the so-called delayed reaction, developing only after 24-48 hours after contact with the allergen, so characteristic symptoms develop after this time.
Allergic contact eczema manifests itself in the form various skin lesions. The basic bloom is here the papule then transforms into a folliclewho is scrambled under the influence of feeling by the toddler persistent itching turns into erosion over time covering the scab.
Allergic eruptions are localized on an erythematous basis, they may merge, but they are clearly demarcated from healthy skin.They usually appear in places of contact with an allergenic substance and are accompanied by persistent itching. During the healing period it can be seen exfoliation of the epidermis in places that included changes, while in the course of chronic allergic processes it thickens in these areas of the skin, which can sometimes lead to the formation of very painful cracks.
Contact allergens - what is the most common allergy?
The most common allergenic substances are children cosmetics ingredients. These include:
- fragrances- benzyl alcohol, amyl cinnamyl alcohol, benzyl benzoate, butyl phenyl, citral, limonene, carboxaldehyde
- preservatives- isothiazoline, benzoic acid, parabens,
- detergents - SLS, SLES
- synthetic pigment- Cochineal, P-phenyldiamine (PPD), sunset yellow
- substances of natural origin- propolis, mango extract, horsetail, arnica, narrow-leaved lavender, essential oils.
In addition to them, skin reactions can often be seen after contact with nickel (mainly in young women), chromium, cobalt or neomecin.
What does the diagnosis of contact allergy look like in children?
Itself diagnosis of contact allergy in a child is based on positive history of exposure (contact) of the child to contact allergens and the presence of characteristic skin lesions. On the other hand, identifying specific substances causing a given reaction requires carrying out so-called epidermal patch tests.
This examination is most often performed in hospital and involves applying to the child's skin (usually on the back) a hypoallergenic patch with special chambers containing tested allergens. This patch stays glued to the skin for two days and then peels off to evaluate the results. This is done on the day of the photo, and then on the fourth and fifth day (sometimes also after a week). Based on the presence of allergic reactions in specific places corresponding to the location of the chambers with substances, it is determined which of them the patient is allergic to. Standard tests assess the response to 20 of the most popular allergens, and the diagnostic process itself is quite simple and importantly reliable.
Treatment of contact allergies in a child
The basis for treating allergic diseases is also in this case avoiding contact with an allergen that causes adverse reactions. In addition, it applies here topical preparations with antiallergic and anti-inflammatory effect.Drugs introduced into therapy should be appropriately selected taking into account their potency in relation to the clinical state and age of the child. In addition, it is extremely important careful and systematic toddler skin care (especially with concomitant atopic dermatitis) using properly selected cosmetics. It's best to use for this purpose moisturizing and oiling products (emollients) neutral pH, no preservatives and no added dyes or fragrances.
If a child develops a contact allergy, one should be aware that, unfortunately, this is not a disease that can be cured completely. Currently available therapeutic methods allow to significantly alleviate the ailments and calm the inflammation of the skin, but re-contact with the allergen can cause them to return again.