Itchy skin is usually first and most common symptom of allergies. In allergies, the body has an oversensitive reaction towards “ harmless” agent. In allergy the immune system over reacts and begins allergic inflammation targeted to clean the foreign agent from the body. Since this reaction is unnecessary, it only harms the body’s healthy tissue. The allergic inflammation is characterized by swollen, warmth, redness and with time hardening and thickening of the skin. The self grooming of pets worsens the inflammation. Constant itching causes scratching and rubbing, which creates skin damages and can lead into severe secondary infections (consequence of the primary problem).
Causative agent in allergy can be insects, chemicals, food, sun light and many others. Investigate with the veterinarian to identify what your animal is allergic to. Primary target is to exclude and avoid allergy causing products and compounds. The typical symptomatic areas in dogs are paws, stomach, ears and groins. Symptomatic areas in cats are ears, face, in between toes, writs, ankles, arm pits and groin. Onset of allergy is usually during the early years of the animal. Without treatment allergy gets worse. Allergic skin is often sensitive, which should be considered in the skin care of these animals. Extra mechanical and chemical stress should be avoided.
More information on how to provide a skin friendly wash can be found in our “ Wash of the animal” section.
Veterinarian is the best person to analyse the comprehensive clinical situation and define the right treatment.
Povidone iodine, hexetidine, miconazole nitrate and chlorhexetidine are typical synthetic antimicrobic compounds, which destroy wide range of various microbes. There are shampoos and lotions based on these compounds. These compounds can cause skin irritation. Many natural compounds e.g. pure essential oils: lavender, mint, lemongrass, thyme, oregano and many others have antimicrobic properties.
Early diagnosis leads to better treatment outcome. Early diagnosed infections can often be treated at home with topical treatment. The aim of the topical treatment is to clear the area of infection (disinfect). Treatment consists of washing the area off from microbes and applying antimicrobic lotion.
The frequency of the treatment is dependent of the severity and the grade of the infection. How successful this treatment is depends on the effectiveness of the compound on the causative, infective microbe. Some microbe strains are resistant to common antimicrobic compounds. Antimicrobic treatment should not be interrupted too early, as it could worsen the infection and make the microbes resistant to antimicrobic treatment.Mixing or using various products only few days to treat the infection can have similar effect. Thick and greasy products should be avoided as they accumulate dirt on the infection.
Solheds natural products in the aid of management of the allergic skin
Wash the symptomatic/affected areas with Derma1 Skin Care Shampoo when needed and leave for 3 minutes, rinse well. Often washing with water is sufficient and hence Derma1 Skin Care Shampoo should only be required 1-8 times a month. Apply Derma2 Calming Serum / Derma11 Anti-Itch Spray on dry and clean skin preferably twice a day. Applying Derma5 Germ Fighting Cream on Derma1 Skin Care Shampoo day eg. once a week, can provide additional support. Derma5 cream is suitable for so called elephant skin, which is caused by constant and intensive rubbing.
Allergic skin requires continuous treatment, which can create challenges for the care giver. Allergic skin is usually permanent disease, which cannot be cured. Some of the allergies are seasonal and some require constant attention. Successful treatment of allergic skin requires commitment from the care giver for daily treatment, often for the duration of the animals life. Cats and dogs are easier while they usually live in the same house with their care giver. Horse owners will often need to arrange more care givers to manage the daily treatment. In chronic diseases like allergy, the basic care is good maintenance therapy, thus a regular daily treatment.
Treatment of the allergic skin (e.g. summer eczema)
The primary treatment in allergy is avoidance of the causative agents. As this is not always possible, immune therapy could provide solution. In immune therapy the allergic animal is desensitized to the causative agent of allergy. Immune therapy is not routinely easily available for all animals,in some cases immune therapy is available for dogs. Since in allergic eczema the symptomatic organ is skin, it is vital to provide good skin care. Good skin care includes keeping the skin clean and mainting moisture balance by applying lotions and reducing the skin’s allergic , inflammatory reaction. The most effective medication for the allergic inflammation is glucocorticosteroids. Glucocorticosteroids, in common language cortisone, is an anti-inflammatory compound. It suppresses the allergic reaction. It is available as topical ointments and in systemic medication. Both formats have severe side effects. However, cortisone is an excellent medication when properly controlled by a veterinarian and currently the only medication in acute allergic skin reactions.
Allergic skin reactions are treated both with systemic and local medications. Therapies based on cortisone and fatty acids have become fairly standardized treatment . The efficacy of antihistamines is not explicitly evidenced scientifically. However, many veterinarians have noted their efficacy on some animals. The efficacy of antihistamine treatment on the symptomatic animal needs to be evident before increasing or changing antihistamine treatment to avoid side effects or overdosage. Homeopathic remedies have also provided help in treating some animals . In addition to systemic therapies, skin also requires topical treatment as systematic therapy alone is not sufficient . Good treatment practice for pets is shampoo therapy. The purpose of the washing is to wash off the allergens/causative agents of the skin, decreasing microbial load on the skin and to soothe and treat the skin. For repeating washes of allergic skin water is often sufficient. This way you can spare the skin from extra stress of chemicals and washing agents. The therapy also includes topically given ointments and lotions, which treat and sooth the skin. Thick and greasy products should also be avoided as they accumulate dirt on the allergic skin.
Allergic skin is prone to secondary infections and cuts and crazes from scratching and rubbing of the itchy skin. These skin infections are treated as per instructions for infected and inflamed skin and cuts and crazes as per instructions for cuts and crazes. It is impossible to rid the allergic symptoms on the animal if it is constantly exposed to the causative agent. For example a horse with summer eczema has symptoms as long as it is exposed to insects and a dog allergic to wheat has symptoms as long as it is exposed to diet consisting wheat. Holistic care of the animal consists of reducing allergic reactions/symptoms and careful and regular care of the animal.
Typical problems in care of an allergic animal are:
• Care is too irregular
• Anti inflammatory products are not part of the care regime
• Care does not reach the skin effectively enough
• Basic hygine of the animal is poor
• All symptomatic areas are not treated