I have to start off by saying that I am not a physician and you should not take anything I say here as concrete medical advice. Always consult with a physician before you begin any new or radical changes in your medications or skincare routine. I have seen a dermatologist and an allergist now, so I would highly recommend that if you suffer from allergies and skin conditions like I do, consult a doctor as they will be able to tell you what you need more than I can.
I consulted an allergist last week because I've had off and on allergies for most of my life. They usually involved skin and sinus reactions, but more recently I've had a few anaphylaxis reactions and it scared me into consulting an allergist. I had extensive testing done, including a scratch test involving approximately 90 pricks to my skin. But that's a story for another day.
ALLEGRA/ZYRTEC/CLARITIN: These are basic anti-histamine, Fexofenadrine based, daily pills. They are available over the counter now and the price will vary depending on where you purchase. Allegra and Claritin are 24-hour doses, but the Zyrtec is labeled as 12-hour, so keep that in mind. As this is over the counter, you do not need a prescription (this is in the United States but I'm sure the rest of the world has similar products) BUT you will want to talk to a doctor about the differences and what will work best for you. I take Allegra but my brother takes Zyrtec. I get mine from Costco for around $31 for 90 pills (a 3 month supply). This helps with day to day allergic reactions: coughing, sneezing, sinus congestion, headache, and can also help with physical reactions such as anaphylaxis and dry skin.
SINGULAIR/MONTELUKAST: Montelukast is generic Singulair. This is available only by a prescription from a physician. This works in conjunction with Allegra or Claritin to further help alleviate allergy symptoms. If you have occasional seasonal allergies, your doctor probably will not prescribe this to you. I actually have not started taking mine yet, so I cannot tell you of any side effects or how I feel about the medication. It is just what I was prescribed. (Price will vary depending on insurance and where you purchase it. I got mine from Costco for $27.49, 30 day supply. It was the cheapest place by far.)
VENTOLIN/ANY INHALER: I was given an inhaler due to my throat and chest tightening reactions from an unknown allergen. Many people with asthma also have allergies, and the asthma is a symptom of the allergic reaction. If you have EVER had the sensation of your throat tightening, chest constricting, or had difficulty breathing, you'll want to see an allergist and talk to them about carrying an inhaler. Keep in mind that just because the reaction wasn't severe initially, over time you can have more and more severe reactions to allergens, which can eventually lead to an emergency room visit or even a fatal reaction if you can't react fast enough. (My Ventolin inhaler was $40 with insurance coverage.)
Your doctor may also prescribe you an Epipen for serious allergic reactions. If during the allergy scratch test, you react severely at all, or if you've ever had an anaphylaxsis reaction, be prepared to receive a suggestion to carry one of these on you. They are incredibly pricey for most people, and I actually have not gotten one yet because of the price. The base price is $250.00. I won't go into too much about these, but I just wanted people to have the information.
DOVE NUTRIUM MOISTURE BODY WASH - SENSITIVE: I just started using this about 2 weeks ago and I love it so far! In addition to being alcohol and sulfate free, it's also fragrance and dye free. It has some good things it in for your skin (coconut oil is one, if I recall correctly) and I've already noticed an improvement over using the crappy, super smelly Caress body washes. As this doesn't have sulfates, it doesn't lather and it more like a creamy lotion. I'm used to it, so it doesn't bother me at all. **I'm reading some reviews saying that this isn't fragrance free, but I do not have 'fragrance' listed on my bottle, so I'm not sure.** (This was around $9 for a large bottle.) NOTE ADDED 12/13/2012: I've looked at my bottle and realized that glycerin is the second ingredient in this, while it says 'soap-free'. It also has 'fragrance' yet says unscented on my bottle. I am contacting Dove's customer service and will update this ASAP.
EUCERIN CALMING BODY WASH OIL: This is another new purchase and as I've only used it once, I can't say much about it yet. It's definitely an oil consistency, which makes it a little strange to use, but it does "soap" up once you begin to rub it into your skin. On the ingredients, there is something that contains 'sulfate' on some listings online but my bottle doesn't say that, so I am concerned over what exactly this contains! I will also add that it smells funny... not in a slightly bad way, but bordering on a REALLY bad way. I'll get through it, but I'm not a big fan. (This was around $8.)
- Random tip: Carry a small bottle of soap with you in your handbag if you do tend to have sensitive skin. Once you've found a soap that works for you, this is really helpful when you're in a public bathroom. I find that many generic soaps used in bathrooms irritate my hands like no other, but for some reason Bath & Body Works Soaps don't, so I keep one with me in a hand sanitizer bottle. I also have one at the sink in my office for when I use the restroom at work, so that I can wash my hands and not have to worry about the itchiness and hives that happen when I use the regular soap in the bathroom.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask!