Many factors can affect the health and appearance of your skin, including sleep, hormones, hygiene, diet, hydration and more. Another factor you may not suspect is at play is your seasonal allergies. Airborne allergens such as pollen can cause irritation in the skin, just as it does in the eyes, nose and throat.
How Allergens Affect Skin
People who experience seasonal allergies tend to experience dry, itchy, irritated skin. According to Dr. Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, “In predisposed people, exposure to allergens in the air can lead to widespread allergic skin rashes.”
It is important to be aware of all your allergy symptoms, not just common ones such as itchy eyes and runny nose. For example, skin reacts to allergens in the form of hives, scaly patches and eczema. These conditions tend to be itchy, and scratching can cause long-term damage like scarring and prolonged skin sensitivity.
Dr. Marie Hayag, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Fifth Avenue Aesthetics, explains, “Things like dust and pollen, which we breathe in, are common allergens that cause a chain-like reaction. This reaction sparks the immune system to protect the body, which produces certain antibodies that stimulate chemicals such as histamine into the bloodstream. Histamine causes inflammation, which can cause the skin to become more sensitive.”
Preventing Skin Allergies
The best thing you can do to prevent skin irritation caused by allergies is to avoid allergens. Of course, this is not always possible, but there are strategies for limiting exposure:
- Stay inside when pollen counts are high
- Keep windows closed
- Turn on air conditioning
- Wash sheets and pillow cases in hot water weekly
- Place dust-mite-proof covers on your mattress
- Use fragrance- and dye-free skin products
- Practice stress-management
The last tip may be surprising in terms of allergy-management, but as Dr. Hayag explains, “Stress can cause an increase of histamine in the body, which can create more adverse allergic reactions.”
Treating Skin Allergies
The most important thing you can do for your irritated skin is leave it alone. Scratching dry skin can release more histamines, causing further irritation and possibly infection. Keep your skin clean using a mild fragrance-free soap and moisturize with repairing creams that sooth skin and rebuild the skin barrier. Hydrocortisone cream can help with severely itchy skin.
For more information about managing allergies or to schedule an appointment, call Pinnacle ENT Associates today.