Jun 2, 2006, 4:49 PM
Post #1 of 1
For Info only.
About Skin Allergies
Skin allergy results in itchy, inflamed skin. The skin becomes reddened and the coat may become dry, flaky or oily and smelly. Hair may shed easily resulting in baldness. Inflamed skin is prone to secondary bacterial and fungal infections leading to dermatitis.
Some skin allergies cannot be cured but most may be controlled with appropriate medication & management. There are several types of skin allergies and different approaches are needed to treat the different allergies.
The main causes of skin allergies include;
1) Contact Allergy
Commonly due to direct contact with the offending substances. These could be grasses, plants, soaps, shampoos, deteregent, disinfectant, etc. Skin irritation is usually confined to areas in contact with these substances.
2) Biting Insects
This condition is caused by insect bites. Some animals develop severe reactions to these bites, resulting in very itchy, inflamed skin and hair loss.
3) Food Allergy
Commonly due to the protein source in the diet. An elimination trial can be performed to identify the cause ie. the patient is put on a hypoallergenic diet for 2-3 mths. It is important that NOTHING ELSE be fed during this period. If there is an improvement, the patient may then be 'challenged'with its previous diets to identify the offending food protein.
Alternatively, the patient may continue on the diet as advised by your vet.
4) Atopy (Inhalant Allergy)
The allergens in this case are in the air and trigger an allergic reaction when breathed in. They include pollens, mites, dusts, moulds, etc. This causes a generalised skin irritation. Classics sighs are paw chewing, face rubbing and armpit scratching. This is usually a life long , recurring problem.
This is usually aimed at controlling the secondary bacterial &/or fungal dermatitis first. Antibiotics, antifungal drugs, cortisone and anti-histamine may be used.
Ancillary therapy can reduce the amount of medication required and decrease the severity of skin allergies. Ie. maintaining a short coat, use of medicated shampoos, special diets, essential fatty acids and vitamins supplement are useful.
Some condition resolve with 1 treatment but others, especially Atopy, will required prolonged treatment and management.
Its important to note that some skin problems can take long time to respond to medication (usually 2-3 weeks but sometimes months.) Others will need regular attention to control. As such, it is important to have your pet checked as advised, prefereably by the same vet until the condition is well managed.