Can cat allergies cause a rash?

Allergies are the result of a misdirected immune system. While some substances are completely safe, if your body is overly sensitive, it may mistakenly identify certain allergens as harmful and react against them. The most common allergens that cats produce are proteins found in a cat’s saliva and the sebaceous glands, along with the dander, or skin flakes, they secrete.

The battle against allergens can be realized in several ways. Most often, people with cat allergies suffer from cold-like symptoms. If the allergen ends up in the lining of the eyes or nose, the reaction may be swollen or red eyes, nasal congestion, or itchy eyes and nose. Inhaling the allergen can cause coughing, wheezing or sneezing. Scratches, bites, or licks from a cat can cause the skin to turn red at the site of contact. People who are very sensitive to cats may develop hives or a rash on the face, neck, or upper chest when exposed to the allergen. Those with asthma have a higher chance of an asthma attack when they come into contact with cat allergens. Allergy symptoms can take a few minutes to develop when you come into contact with a cat, but they can also take several hours, depending on your sensitivity level.

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To determine if you have a cat allergy, observing the symptoms is usually not enough. Other allergens can cause the same symptoms. An allergist can perform skin or blood tests to determine if you have a cat allergy, but these tests are not completely reliable. One way to test your diagnosis is to stay away from the cat for at least a few months to see if your symptoms subside. If the cat was in your home prior to your trial separation, be sure to do a thorough cleaning after the pet leaves. It can take months before the home is allergen-free.

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