It’s bad enough that this time of the year many of us are suffering from itchy eyes, a runny nose, congestion, and exhaustion, but there is now evidence to suggest that those who suffer from seasonal allergies may also suffer from several skin conditions.
The change of season tends to affect our skin regardless if we have allergies or not, but it seems those who are constantly plagued by pollen can have it worse. Here are a few of the most common skin conditions allergy sufferers have noticed:
One of the first signs of allergies is dry, itchy eyes that become red and puffy after we’ve thoroughly irritated them with our fingers. Rubbing the eyes might make the itchiness improve, but makes the skin around the area look worse. Practically anything can set this off, including dust particles, pollen, pet dander, feathers, and mold. The body reacts to this by releasing histamine, a chemical that sets out to rid the body of these irritants by causing you to sneeze or swell up. It’s because of this chemical that the blood vessels in your eyes swell up and your eyes get red and itchy during allergy season.
Red and Irritated Skin under the Nose
Generally, red and irritated skin under the nose is caused by using tissues or constantly touching that part of your face. The irritation causes that skin to feel raw, and it might even bleed or scab up. While allergies definitely cause a runny nose, they aren’t directly linked to acne. However, touching one’s face like this will likely cause a breakout which will lead to further redness and skin aggravation.
Dry and Peeling Skin
Caused by the same natural chemical that causes puffy eyes, dry and peeling skin is a result of the body trying to ward off irritants. Any time that pollen, mold, dust particles and other allergy-inducing substance come in contact with the epidermis, the body will react by releasing histamine. The skin can appear red and dry as a result, which can cause a person some serious frustration. This is why people who suffer from seasonal allergies take anti-histamines, which is a medicine designed to stop the body from releasing histamines, ultimately preventing these results. If you’re suffering from dry skin due to allergies, it’s said that using moisturizers and other products might cause even further irritation. This is especially true on the face. Using lotions or makeup on facial skin affected by allergy inducing particles can cause an even worse reaction. It’s important to create a protective barrier around the skin when it’s in this condition. Typically creams designed for eczema work best.
Hay fever is a specific kind of allergic reaction to pollen having direct contact with the skin. Many of the symptoms are similar to the side effects caused by breathing in allergens; however, sometimes a rash can also be found in these cases. Often mistaken for hives, these rashes usually appear first as red patches and eruptions on the skin that look similar to welts. The skin might be red and swollen as well, but the spots are clearly defined and might even grow over time. These are different from hives, which can also be caused by hay fever. You can spot the difference because hives will turn white when you press on them. Hay fever isn’t only caused by rolling around in the hay (as many believe) and more often than not is caused by gardening or touching flowers.
Hives are also caused by allergens coming in contact with the skin. They appear on the skin as red, itchy bumps that range in size from one centimeter to one foot in circumference. They tend to last from several hours to a full day and will form in clusters that are referred to as plaques. This skin condition can form on any surface of the skin including the back, cheek, tongue, and even the throat, occasionally causing a stinging or burning sensation. These are not to be mistaken for the hives caused by consuming something you’re allergic to, such as peanuts or dairy. Hives caused by this kind of allergic reaction will typically last for days or even weeks and can require immediate medical attention.
More than just the typical dry skin we all experience in the winter, eczema can be far worse and far more painful. Caused by both seasonal allergies and food allergies, eczema appears on the skin in the form of red patches of dry skin. The most common parts of the body affected by this skin condition are the elbows, knees, face, neck, and hands, but eczema can form anywhere. This will typically require medical attention and prescription-strength lotions and moisturizers to heal.
Most of these skin irritations will go away on their own in a few weeks and aren’t considered to be very serious conditions. Occasionally they will seem like the skin irritation is fading or even will disappear, but then they will come back. This is said to be normal, and not anything to be concerned about. A few simple ways to reduce irritation is to take a cool bath or shower or use a cool compress to gently press against the infected area before drying it off. Often people will combine colloidal oatmeal with their baths, which is a powdered form of oatmeal that is said to soothe the skin during an outbreak. Over the counter anti-itch cream and baggy clothing also help to not only dull the pain and itchiness, but to prevent the rash or irritation from spreading to other areas.
Overall, the only way to prevent these kinds of breakouts is to see your doctor and get a blood allergy test. Until you discover exactly what you’re allergic to, you risk breaking out in any of these skin conditions more often than not.