Frequently heard complaints of itchy eyes and sinuses due to seasonal allergies are common this time of year. But what many might not realize is that their allergic reactions to pollen might affect other parts of the body.
One symptom of hay fever that gets little attention is skin irritation. Some allergy sufferers may get hives or itchy, red welts on their skin after exposure to pollen or other allergens. The red swelling can occur on your face or around your hands, feet and throat.
In addition to the rash, some may find puffiness and dark circles appear around the eyes, called “allergic shiners.” Children who constantly scratch or rub their nose vigorously, also known as the “allergic salute,” may develop a crease in their nose or an “allergic crease.”
Gardening lovers might want to take precautions because touching flowers and plants their allergic to may cause a breakout of multiple skin reactions. Wearing long sleeve shirts and gloves can provide some protection against this direct contact.
“An allergy symptom is basically your body reacting to something foreign. If you’re allergic to pollen, the body will find ways to fight off the irritant in ways, unfortunately, that can be quite uncomfortable,” said Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of the Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Lady Lake, Florida. “People who have itchy, annoying skin conditions, such as atopic dermatitis, may find their skin irritations become worse during the hay fever season.”
Neuzil adds that some fruits and vegetables which have similar pollen proteins to the outdoor offenders can even cause itchiness and irritation in the mouth when consumed. They include oranges, tomatoes, melons and figs. Usually reactions happen when you eat the food fresh or raw.
Of course, the best way to avoid the skin reactions is to avoid exposure.
If you do experience a skin rash due to allergies, Neuzil recommends cleaning the area of exposure and taking an antihistamine. He also suggests avoiding direct sun light and wearing tight fighting clothes which can irritate the skin.
For natural relief, apply a cold milk compress to the irritated area for up to 15 minutes at a time or soak in a lukewarm (not hot) oatmeal bath (unless allergic to oatmeal). The cooler the water, the better the effect.