Dermatological allergology - Further information
Our skin protects us and deserves our protection
The role of skin is to provide a barrier against harmful environmental factors and germs. Via the skin is our only way of feeling and sensing heat, cold, pain and pleasure. Skin glands regulate body temperature. Because the skin is the body's barrier against the environment, it is exposed to numerous factors. Because of the area it covers and the possible adverse impacts it is exposed to, the number of skin diseases in all age groups is very high. Each of us, at least once in a lifetime, notices a skin infection, an allergy, a sunburn or other changes in their skin. The constant impact of UV radiation or chemicals leads to dangerous diseases such as skin tumors. These days, medical science has very good means of treating dermatological disorders.
For anyone suspecting an allergy, the right contact is a dermatologist and allergologist. Also ENT specialists, pulmonology specialists, dermatologists (skin doctors) and pediatricians with the additional qualification 'Allergology Specialist' can carry out allergy tests. The type of tests and sequencing of tests enable reliable diagnosis.
Assessment of allergy tests
Allergy tests are never 100% reliable, because the first thing they show is the patient's allergy susceptibility. The patient's body is sensitized to particular substances. Diagnosis is a four-stage process:
- Medical history
In an initial consultation, the allergologist traces the patient's medical history.
- Skin tests
The skin test serves to distinguish between two allergy groups: a) the immediate reaction type, where the symptoms appear in only a few minutes and b) a delayed reaction allergy type - generally a contact allergy. The skin prick test acts as evidence of the immediate reaction type. The skin test is only carried out on healthy skin.
- Laboratory tests
Laboratory tests provide evidence of antibodies in blood in response to suspect allergens. They provide clues as to the type of allergens.
- Provocation test
A provocation test is intended to prove or rule out that allergy symptoms are triggered in the organ. A proven allergy generally needs treatment.
Unlike tests to prove food or mold fungus allergies, skin tests to prove pollen or house dust mite allergies are really reliable. A positive test is not the equivalent of an allergy. You can only speak in those terms when the typical discomfort has been experienced.
The skin allergy - when the skin sounds alarm bells
If substances on the skin trigger morbid changes, that is the time to speak of a skin allergy. An allergy is a defense reaction of the immune system to certain, usually harmless substances in the environment. Cleaning agents, cosmetics, hair dyes, preservatives, pollen and drugs can trigger allergic reactions with morbid skin changes in sensitive people. The result is often permanent skin damage.
Contact allergies proceed in two phases - they start with the sensitization phase and then move on into the trigger phase when the skin changes appear. The skin reacts extremely sensitively to contact with certain substances. Contact allergies occur in every age group and in Germany are almost as common as diabetes mellitus. It can definitely be called a common and widespread disorder.
Neurodermitis even occurs in babies
One in ten babies suffers from neurodermitis or cannot tolerate certain foods. This skin condition manifests itself in skin rashes, eczema and intense itching. Just like hay fever and asthma, it is a disorder of the atopic spectrum. Even today, the precise causes have not been researched, though a genetic disposition is assumed. An enzyme defect causes metabolic disorders of the skin, associated with fatty acid deficiency. This makes it easier for allergenic and irritating substances to penetrate the skin and damage it.
Allergy prevention - the earlier, the better
In the period between late pregnancy and the first months of the baby's life, numerous allergies can be prevented, emphasizes Prof. Dr. med. Ulrich Wahn of Charité, one of the most experienced allergy experts in Germany. From the very earliest years of a child's life, diet plays a vital role. Food experts recommend regularly eating types of fish rich in oil because the unsaturated fats they contain have an anti-allergenic effect.
The best allergy prevention is specific and detailed education from qualified doctors. A scheme of preventive health protection also includes the furnishings of a person's home. If at all possible, the effects of airborne pollutants and mold should be avoided. A diet rich in variety with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables already provides protection against allergies during pregnancy. To prevent allergies in children, pregnant women should, if at all possible, eat a varied diet because simply avoiding food has no positive effect.