This fall, your allergy flare ups might mean more than a sore throat and sniffles; they could impact your skin. Learn more about fall allergies and how to reduce the skin irritation they can bring with them.
Seasonal allergies affect practically everyone to some degree. While most people might just experience a few sneezes at the peak of pollen season, others can experience much more severe, long-lasting symptoms. Ragweed is the main trigger for seasonal allergies in New England, but other environmental factors like dust mites and mold are also either at their peak or stirred up by fall activities. Ragweed, and specifically the pollen from ragweed, affects people from all walks of life. Some people struggle with seasonal allergies from childhood, and others develop them later in their life. Ragweed pollen can travel on the air for hundreds of miles, so even if you’re in a major city far from the plants, the pollen can still drift and trigger your allergies. Pollen levels from ragweed plants are at their highest starting in August but can extend into September and October, especially with mild weather. People with pollen allergies have the response they do because their body mistakenly believes pollen is a dangerous foreign object. The body’s immune response is what causes these physical allergy symptoms. The body releases histamines, which are linked with inflammatory symptoms like sneezing, sore throat, and rashes.
Pollen does not need to land on your skin to create a rash if you’re allergic to it. Just because you can’t see pollen on your skin doesn’t mean it won’t cause a rash. Most pollen allergies are triggered by breathing in the pollen itself. As your immune system starts to produce histamines, your skin may become itchy and irritated. This is not an uncommon symptom alongside other more well-known allergy symptoms. Because the immune system is already confused by allergies, it can often become overzealous in the issues it tries to address. That’s why your skin can become itchy and irritated from allergies any time of the year, but as ragweed allergies are very prevalent, your skin can be especially impacted in the fall.
Seasonal allergies don’t need to disrupt your life; many people can carry on as normal and endure some itching and irritation. That said, some people experience more intense symptoms, and even those who aren’t constantly scratching are looking for ways to ease that irritation. Some of the best ways to address seasonal allergies are to prevent rather than treat them. Staying indoors during peak pollen levels is one way to keep your irritation to a minimum. With ragweed, pollen is at its worst in the morning to the mid-afternoon. Keep windows closed and invest in an air purifier if your allergies persist while indoors. If mold or other indoor allergens are a trigger, consider getting more efficient filters for your furnace and explore mold mitigation options. Basements and other wet areas can be mold hotbeds, so look there first. If you can’t avoid the cause of your allergies this fall, don’t worry. There are still things you can do to keep irritation at bay.
Over-the-counter antihistamines are a good route for easing the irritation and itching from fall allergies. You should always discuss your medications with your dermatologist before trying them, as their insights can prevent unwanted side effects. They can also guide you in the right direction when it comes to dosage, frequency, and potency of the drug you should be taking. Many antihistamines can cause drowsiness or are not as well equipped as others for preventing your specific irritation. Find out the right treatment option the first time with your dermatologist, and you’ll remove most of the guesswork.
Fall allergies are an all too common problem for millions of Americans, and when irritation and itchiness accompany stuffy noses and sore throats, it can feel like too much. Tackle your allergies head on this year with the dermatologists you can trust at Northeast Dermatology Associates.
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