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Skin rash and air ducts



I am a 34 year old male with no prior history of skin allergies. In mid to late November 2006 I developed a skin allergy that caused a rash on my neck and face and arms. It went away by mid January. I attributed it to a new detergent used in my house for a few weeks in November. This year, I developed the same rash at the same time, which coincides with beginning daily use of our furance and air duct system. This has never been cleaned in 4+ years of living in our apartment. My question is if this could be a possible cause of my allergies? Will cleaning of the air ducts possibly help and if so, should I avoid any chemical cleaning of the ducts? Thanks!


There are several questions here. First, what is causing the rash? This is difficult to discuss without knowing what the rash was or what it looked like. It is possible that the rash was eczema, which is an allergic rash. Often eczema gets worse as skin dries out, so this may be why you see it in early winter as the weather becomes cold and dry. Other causes of rash similar to what you describe would be contact dermatitis (from lotion/soap etc) or dry skin and irritation. The most important step would be to talk with your doctor about the rash and get a diagnosis. Once you know the diagnosis, you can search for a cause.

Cleaning the air ducts will possibly decrease the amount of dust and particles coming out of the vents. This may or may not have an impact on your rash, depending on the cause. Most often, this process is a "dry" process, meaning that it does not use cleaning chemicals. Most companies will use a special vacuum device to removed the dirt and dust from the ducts. You can talk with the companies about any chemicals used.

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Go to the Allergies health topic, where you can:

Response by:

David  Hauswirth, MD David Hauswirth, MD
Clinical Assistant Professor
Pulmonary, Allergy, Crtitical Care & Sleep
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University