During National Eczema Awareness week (17th September to 25th September 2018) it seems appropriate for Dr Nicky Marshall, PhD, MBPsS, to begin sharing information on the Six Main Symptoms of Food Allergy and begin with eczema and hives.
What is the difference between hives and eczema?
Eczema and hives are both conditions that can cause redness and discomfort, but it can often be difficult to distinguish between them, especially if you have never had either condition before. Using a tracking app to record any episodes of skin irritation can help in informing health professionals about potential causes.
Hives, also known as urticaria, are red, swollen welts, bumps or patches that appear on the skin anywhere on the body in response to an allergen. They appear suddenly, and often itch, but they can also sting or burn . They can range massively in size, and even join together to form ‘plaques’. Less commonly, hives can appear on the lips or tongue, or in the mouth, ears or throat. They can last for hours or even weeks.
Eczema also causes redness and itching, but it is very different to hives. As well as causing redness and itching, skin also becomes dry and cracked. It is usually a long-term (chronic) condition but can improve over time and sometimes with lifestyle changes, especially in children. It can appear anywhere on the body, but is most commonly seen in joint areas, such as behind the knees, or in elbow creases. There is some connection between food allergies and eczema, however in the majority of people with both food allergies and eczema, ingesting an allergen will not result in a flare-up .
Rather, research has shown that eczema flare-ups in response to food allergens usually only occur in infants and those with severe eczema .
Track Your Triggers
If you suffer episodes of skin rashes, hives or eczema, but are unsure about what causes them, using AlliApp to track your triggers can be extremely beneficial. AlliApp is user-friendly and can be used to track food-related triggers for the whole family in a single account. Every time you eat something, you can record this in your AlliApp account by listing the ingredients as well as uploading a picture of your meal. You can then take note of any skin issues that might appear within minutes or even hours of consumption of that meal, and list these. You can also take a picture of the skin irritation and upload it. The benefit of doing this is that AlliApp can help you to identify any patterns that are occurring in terms of reactions to specific foods or food groups.
Other articles of our series “The Six Main Symptoms of Food Allergy”:
- Web MD (2018): ‘What are Hives and Angioedema?’. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/allergies/hives-urticaria-angioedema#1 [Accessed on 27/07/18]
- Boyle Wheeler R, Everyday Health (2018): ‘The Link Between Food Allergies and Eczema’. Available at: https://www.everydayhealth.com/eczema/the-link-between-food-allergies-and-eczema-rash.aspx [Accessed on 27/07/18]