Seasonal Allergies and Your Skin: What to Expect

 Seasonal Allergies and Your Skin: What to Expect

This fall, your allergies might be flaring up with the changing New England vegetation. Allergy symptoms can manifest in a number of ways, but your skin can actually take the brunt of these seasonal irritants.

Common Fall Allergens

Pollen from particular plants is the main cause of seasonal allergies. Across the United States, ragweed pollen is the most prevalent allergen in the fall. Ragweed pollen is in the air from August through November, usually peaking in mid-September. Other fall allergens include goldenrod, grass pollen, cocklebur and certain types of mold. People can develop a seasonal allergy at any point in their lives, and these allergies can go away just as quickly as they come.

An allergy is the immune system mistaking something harmless for a threat. Pollen, dander, and many other common allergens don’t pose us any health risk, but still trigger a variety of immune responses. You’re no doubt familiar with many of the common allergy symptoms: runny noses, watery, itchy eyes, sneezing and a scratchy throat. Some people might have worse allergies in the spring, while others may only have them in the fall or summer.

Allergies and Your Skin

You might not be aware of how allergies may already be affecting your skin and other existing skin conditions. As if sneezing and sniffling weren’t enough, your skin can be irritated and develop a few notable symptoms. For many, certain allergens drive the immune system wild. Rashes, hives, and redness are all typical symptoms of seasonal allergies on the skin. Since pollen particles are light and carry on the wind so well, these will settle on your skin. If your allergies are moderate to severe, your skin itself can react just to contact with pollen alone. Typically, these different reactions are itchy and cause the skin to appear raised. Hives, or urticaria often appear as multiple raised bumps that appear in a network of red or pink, swollen and itchy bumps. A rash is similar to hives, but unlike hives appears as one, cohesive patch of irritated skin.

In some cases, seasonal allergies may actually exacerbate pre-existing skin conditions. In a lot of cases, these conditions are related to an immune system response, but not necessarily related to allergens. Eczema is a common chronic skin condition that can be made worse or flare up as a result of exposure to allergens. Eczema is characterized by itchy, dry and irritated skin. If the condition is untreated or severe, skin can thicken and become crusty or ooze. People with eczema are more likely to also have seasonal allergies, and until recently it was believed that all eczema was caused by allergens. This has since been disproven, and chronic, long-term eczema is not caused by, but rather exacerbated by allergies. When dealing with allergy-triggered eczema, it’s crucial to moisturize daily and keep up with your eczema treatment. Whether you’ve dealt with seasonal allergies before, do not hesitate to reach out to your dermatologist when they start irritating your skin. Treating seasonal allergies is often not a difficult task, it might just take some time and effort.

Seasonal allergies this fall can do more than irritate your eyes and sinuses, it can make your skin feel itchy and develop rashes. Don’t put up with seasonal allergies this year, reach out to the skincare pros at Northeast Dermatology Associates.

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