What is an allergy?
An allergy is an overreaction of the body’s own immune system to a substance with which the skin or mucous membrane has come into contact.
The skin often shows different redness and itching. In rare cases, an excessive anaphylactic reaction occurs.
The good news first: allergies are treatable: symptomatically in the acute phase, but also therapeutically through hyposensitization. This can prevent the progression of an allergy to bronchial asthma, for example, or improve allergy-related skin changes.
The most common forms of allergy include:
- pollen (hay fever)
- dust mites
- allergy to medication
- contact allergies
- food allergies
- insect venom allergy
- allergic urticaria
What types of allergies exist?
Type I immediate type reaction: This leads to immediate redness and itching or anaphylactic shock. This usually happens after the patient has already been sensitized to an allergen, i.e. has already come into contact with it.
Type III reaction – formation of immune complexes: Certain allergens, such as medication or infections, result in the formation of so-called immune complexes. Here, antibodies bind to each other and are deposited in the vessel walls (usually the legs). A complicated inflammatory reaction causes hemorrhages (petechiae/ecchymosis) of various sizes (vasculitis).
Type IV reaction: Here the patient becomes sensitized to a specific substance. If the patient comes into renewed contact with the substance to which he was already sensitized, so-called T-lymphocytes are flushed into the skin and a reaction like contact dermatitis of the hands develops.
How can you test yourself?
Triggers can be determined by the so called “prick- testing”. Here, tiny amounts of an allergic substance are introduced by a lancet under the skin surface. The test result is the interpreted by the dermatologist.
Additionally, when food, animal, bees or wasp venom are we offer the so called RAST (Radio- Allergo- Sorbent- Test).
It is often possible to achieve an improvement of the symptoms by avoiding the allergens (allergy avoidance).
Occasionally, for type I reactions, a short time treatment using antihistamines (to relieve itching), preparations containing cortisone, or hyposensitization (desensitization) may also be indicated. Through desensitization, the body´s own immune system gets used to the trigger over a long period of time.
We offer desensitization, especially for hay fever, wasp venom, animal dander or house dust mite allergies.
For contact eczema (type -IV allergy) we offer patch- testing. Herewith, we can verify or exclude allergies againt nickel, fragrences, preservatives, perubalsam and other substances.
Please note that a positive or negative test result can only be assessed in connection with your symptoms. The RAST shows whether your immune system is already sensitized to the tested substrate (e.g. pollen) (i.e. has already “dealt with” the tested substrate). This means that a negative RAST does not rule out an allergy. Conversely, a positive RAST does not mean that you have a symptomatic allergy.
We help you to get clarity about your complaints and classify them together with you and create a treatment plan.
FAQ (frequently asked questions):
What about food allergies?
Many patients suspect a food allergy behind skin changes and allergic complaints. However, this is rarely the case in everyday life. Here, one can often assume an intolerance that cannot be detected in allergological tests. Food allergies occur mainly in childhood and here mostly in the first years of life. The most common allergies are cow’s milk, hen’s egg and nut allergies. However, cow’s milk and hen’s egg allergies in particular have a high tolerance development, which is why both substances are tolerated without problems by formerly allergic children after 1-2 years of life. This does not apply to nut allergies, which can trigger strong allergic reactions.