Allergies and hives? what to do when your skin is reacting badly to a product

allergies and contact dermatitis

I woke up one morning a few weeks ago and my face felt different! It was sore and itchy, especially around my eyes. There were bumps on my neck and my eyes felt like I had chilli in them. I rushed to the mirror and almost screamed, there were unsightly bumps on my eyelid, under my eyes with hives all over my neck. All of which were itching like crazy, I didn’t know what the heck had happened.
It took me a while but it finally dawned on me that I was having an allergic reaction known as contact dermatitis. Once I realized what was wrong I felt some relief because I knew how to deal with the problem. Let me walk you through what to expect when you have an allergic reaction, the symptoms, and causes, as well as how to manage a mild case if you do not have access to a doctor.

Picture these people are raving about a skincare product which seems to be the holy grail and race off to buy it. After your first application, your skin becomes red, irritated or itchy. You just got contact dermatitis, because of your exposure to a chemical in the product which has caused a reaction on your skin. In most cases, the reaction occurs almost immediately after you apply the product which is why you need to do a patch test before trying out new products. In my case, it happened overnight.

Types of Dermatitis

There are two main types of dermatitis:

  1. Irritant Contact Dermatitis is where your skin comes in contact with an allergic substance which damages the top layer of skin.
  2. Allergic Contact Dermatitis is where your skin reacts to a specific substance or ingredient and may be triggered by food.

There is a wide range of substances that can cause allergic reactions including household products like soaps, cosmetics, fragrances, jewellery and even some plants.

Symptoms of Dermatitis

The symptoms could range from severe to mild depending on your degree of exposure and include

• Red rashes
• Itching, 
• Bumps and blisters, 
• Swelling, burning or tenderness
• Dry, scaly, flaky skin
• Hives
• Darker or leathery-looking skin


contact dermatitis
Source :Walgreens
  • Stop using any new product. If you are not sure about what could be causing the irritation of your skin, start an ‘Elimination Diet’; which means removing any new products from your regimen to help you identify the cause of the allergic reaction.
  • Don’t scratch! I know it is so difficult but it can make the irritation worse and even cause skin infection and we don’t want that.
  • The next thing to do is to apply a to soothe your skin so that you don’t scratch it. I would use a cool cloth, calamine lotion or a hydrocortisone cream/ointment. The best product to use which you can find over the counter is1 % hydrocortisone cream or ointment. Try to use this religiously in the morning and at night for a maximum of two weeks or until the bumps go away .whichever comes first.
  • Moisturise, your skin regularly because it helps to restore your skin’s outermost layer and keep your skin supple.
  • See a doctor if the rash is extremely uncomfortable or becomes more widespread or does not get better within 3 weeks.

Hydrocortisone cream contains a steroid, so you shouldn’t use it for more than 2 weeks otherwise it can lead to more skin issues.


• Calamine Lotion 
1% hydrocortisone cream
• Moisturiser

Back to my episode, I got a tube of 1% Hydrocortisone Ointment and used it for about a week after which most of the hives disappeared. Unfortunately, I still have some darkness from the bumps around my neck.

Are you allergic to any skincare or food product? How did you find out and which of the remedies did you use? Let me know in the comments.

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This post was first published on Beauty In Lagos and has been updated

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