It’s that time of year again, summer has arrived and hay fever is out to get us.

If you’re tackling hay fever this summer, we’ll explain how to address the warning signs, understand the causes and receive proper treatment. Thereby allowing you to nip this one in the bud before it starts to bother you!

Most importantly, we’ll let you know how this irritating allergy can affect your skin, and how to ensure it stays healthy and trouble-free all year long!

Flowers Source: Christian Reusch

What is Hay Fever?



Hay fever is a well-known allergy that many of us suffer from. It’s caused by an allergic reaction to pollen. This allergy is indeed so widespread that it effects one in five people during their lifetime.

As many of you already know, common symptoms of hay fever include:

  • constant sneezing
  • a runny or blocked nose
  • itchy or puffy eyes (also known as allergic conjunctivitis).


  • Though there are also some less common symptoms, such as anosmia, facial pain (due to blocked sinuses) and fatigue.

    Hay fever can also be particularly brutal to those of us that suffer from skin problems, or are victims of sensitive skin. We’ll have more on this later, so stay tuned!

    Sneezing Source: Tina Franklin

    When Does Hay Fever Occur?



    Hay fever is often referred to as a seasonal illness. Indeed, its symptoms often become more visible during the summer months.

    This is because the pollen count generally increases during these hotter periods, and thus causes greater aggravation to the skin and the senses.

    So what is the Pollen Count?

    The Pollen Count is measured by the number of pollen grains in one cubic meter of air. This is measured within a Pollen Forecast which typically has four ratings: low, moderate, high and very high.

    Sadly, when the pollen count is high, symptoms of hay fever become much more visible and generally worsen.

    Effects of Hay Fever on the Skin



    In addition to the stuffy noses and regular sneezing, hay fever can also affect the skin. If you have hay fever, you’ve probably experienced the itchy, irritable skin that comes as part of the package!

    So let’s take a closer look at how hay fever affects our skin.

    Rashes

    Rashes caused directly from hay fever often result from the allergens (in this case pollen) directly touching the skin. This aggravates the target area and allows for an itchy rash to develop. However, in some cases, rashes can be a consequence of other allergic reactions. Heat rash is a common example of this, as is urticaria(commonly known as hives). With urticaria, rashes can develop from a variety of substances and causes, rather than just pollen.

    So it’s really important to understand where your rash is coming from in order to treat it properly.

    Itchy eyes

    One of the most noticeable symptoms of hay fever are the itchy, puffy eyes. These symptoms often develop quickly and become difficult to ignore. For this reason, early treatment is essential!

    But why do we suffer from itchy, puffy eyes?

    It’s all down to the allergic reaction that takes place in your eyes. As pollen enters your eyes, your body automatically produces a substance called histamine. This substance defends your body from unknown threats.

    Hold on, let’s break this down.

    Histamine commonly causes inflammation as a defence mechanism. Blood vessels expand and capillaries leak, thus causing the surrounding skin to swell.

    As a result, we are left with the familiar look of pink, swollen eyes that feel incredibly itchy!

    Sensitive skin

    For all you sensitive skin sufferers, hay fever is bad news.

    Those with sensitive skin are particularly at risk of developing skin reactions as a result of hay fever. This is all down to the fact that you’re more susceptible to irritable skin conditions that can develop from a number of external factors.

    To make matters worse, the irritation caused by the pollen can often cause other skin conditions to develop, such as atopic dermatitis (also known as eczema).

    Indeed, some unlucky individuals are genetically more susceptible to allergies such as asthma and hay fever as well as skin conditions like eczema, than others.

    In fact, ‘atopic’ means exactly that - your immune system has a genetic tendency to produce higher levels of Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies in response to certain allergens, than others.

    The larger the variety of IgE antibodies within your immune system, the more likely you are to develop multiple allergic reactions.

    Sitting on grass Source: Pexels

    So How can we Treat these Symptoms?




    Tailor your Skincare Routine

    Fortunately, maintaining a healthy skincare routine can help to reduce the effects that hay fever can have on your skin. This is particularly true for those who have sensitive skin.

    Moisturise

    With hay fever comes constant touching of the face, whether this be to blow your nose or rub your eyes. All this can irritate the skin, leaving it tender to touch and often red and dry.

    Therefore, during the summer months especially, it’s important to invest in a nourishing moisturiser. Incorporating moisturising into your skincare routine, and applying moisturiser twice daily can dramatically improve both the texture and appearance of your skin.

    Furthermore, the use of cooling body creams, which often include natural anti-inflammatories, can dramatically help to reduce any reactions to hay fever on your body.

    Natural anti-inflammatories include substances such as coconut oil, blueberries, pineapple and omega-3. These cooling body creams will effectively fight skin inflammation due to the natural antihistamine ingredients they contain.

    Eye-care

    During these months, it’s also important to incorporate eye-care into your skincare routine.

    Each morning and evening, apply a damp, cold cloth to your eye area. This helps to rid your eyes of the irritable allergens present in your skin or eyelashes, whilst the coolness of the cloth helps to reduce the swelling.

    Furthermore, using a cold saline solution to rinse the eyes can provide relief whilst eradicating bacteria. If this doesn’t work, taking antihistamine eye drops may be effective.

    Following this, apply a revitalising eye serum to help protect the delicate eye area.

    Medication

    It’s advisable to make sure you always check with your GP before taking any medication.

    Using antihistamines as a first point of call can often prove effective at relieving hay fever symptoms. Antihistamines block the effects of histamine on your cells, preventing an allergic reaction from initially taking place.

    However, if symptoms persist, you may be prescribed corticosteroids. These are often more effective than antihistamine tablets at relieving both the nasal symptoms, as well as the itchy, watery eyes and the rashes that can develop on the skin.

    DANDELION Source: Pixabay

    By using this UK-wide Pollen Forecast provided by the Met office, or a World Pollen Calendar you can keep track of when pollen levels are at their highest, and take action accordingly.

    This way, you can make sure you are always one step ahead of the dreaded hay fever!

    If your symptoms don’t alleviate after these recommendations, you may suffer from extreme hay fever or have an underlying medical condition. In this case, your GP can assist you further.