Common Causes of Winter Allergies

Common Causes of Winter Allergies

Winter allergies are not so common compared to those during other seasons. However, there are many people around the country who experience severe allergy symptoms in winter. Besides the fact that wintertime is the season of mountain cedar pollination, there are a lot of other triggers present during this time that can be the cause of the annoying symptoms. These triggers include indoor christmas trees, outdoor mold, and other irritants like cold and wind that are also causing nasal symptoms. You may also experience a condition known as cold urticaria – hives caused by cold temperatures.  

 

Mountain Cedar Pollen as an Allergy Trigger

Mountain cedar, which is also known as ashe juniper or blueberry juniper, is a drought-tolerant evergreen tree of the Cupressaceae family. It mainly grows in South and Central Texas and can also be found in northeastern Mexico and the south-central United States. In these areas, mountain cedar is almost the only pollen source in winter. The tree’s pollination season starts in December and lasts until the end of March. Mountain cedar usually pollinates very intensely creating large clouds of pollen grains that remind clouds of smoke.

 

An allergic reaction caused by mountain cedar pollen is typically referred to as “cedar fever”. The symptoms of cedar fever are similar to those of hay fever. They include sneezing, nasal congestion, runny nose, as well as itchiness in the eyes and nose. Although this type of allergy is called “fever”, the condition is not related to an actual fever.

 

The pollen of mountain cedar is very similar to the pollen of other trees of this family, such as juniper and cypress trees., which are found in other parts of the United States of America.  Unlike mountain cedar, the latter pollinate in spring. People allergic to mountain cedar pollen are also allergic to the pollen of juniper and cypress trees.

 

Mold as a Winter Allergy Trigger

People allergic to mold may experience annoying symptoms during the wintertime. Airborne molds, that are present as indoors as outdoors, are one of the most common triggers of allergic rhinitis and asthma symptoms. Outdoors molds are usually present in places with colder climates, normally from the late winter to early spring.  On rainy days, the concentration of molds in the air is even higher.

 

Although indoor molds can be present year round and their levels normally depend on the humidity inside the home, the increased levels of outdoor mold lead to higher indoor mold levels, as well. This means that indoor molds are often caused by the the outside environment.

Christmas Trees as an Allergy Trigger

Each year many people notice worsening of their allergy and asthma symptoms during Christmas holidays, when they bring a fresh pine tree indoors. For years, specialists have suspected that Christmas trees might be causing or worsening allergy symptoms. However, it is not clear why. Pollen, mold spores, and odors emitted from the tree are among the potential reasons.  

 

Cold Weather as a Cause of Runny Nose

When the weather gets colder, more and more people are having a runny nose. The reason why you may experience this symptom is normally vasomotor rhinitis. This is a non-allergic form of rhinitis, whose symptoms may include a runny nose, post-nasal drip and nasal congestion. This condition is usually caused by temperature changes, windy weather, humidity level changes, strong odors, perfumes, or smoke.

 

Cold as a Cause of Urticaria

In some people, exposure to the cold may cause the condition known as cold urticaria (cold hives). It is a form of physical urticaria that occurs as a result of cold exposure, including cold weather, cold food and drinks, and cold water.

Eyelid Dermatitis: What Is It Caused by and How Is It Treated?

Eyelid Dermatitis: What Is It Caused by and How Is It Treated?

Since the skin over the eyelids is thin and very sensitive, various rashes are likely to develop in that area. Many people around the world, especially women, experience eyelid rashes as result of various allergic reactions or autoimmune diseases. In most cases, the rash is triggered by allergens contained in cosmetics or hair care products that patients use regularly.

Contact Dermatitis

One of the most common forms of eyelid rashes is contact dermatitis. This disease often occurs as a result of certain eye make-up  products (for instance, eyeshadow, mascara or concealer) applied directly to the area of eyelids. Various substances contained in eye cosmetics cause an allergic reaction leading to the rash.

The substances causing eyelid dermatitis include antigens like formaldehyde or quaternium-15, as well as nickel or cobalt which are sometimes present in eye cosmetics of a green or blue color. In addition, nickel contained in eyelash curlers also may trigger the allergy.

Besides cosmetics that are applied directly to the eyelids, various hair care products used on the scalp may also lead to an allergic reaction. Chemicals in shampoos, conditioners, hair dye, hair sprays and other products may cause the irritation of eyelids. The rash does not usually affect the scalp, since the skin of this area is very thick. Hair sprays, however, may cause the eyelid rash, since the product may easily get on the eyelids, while you are applying it.

Other potential causes of eyelid dermatitis are chemicals present on the hands, such as nail polish or nail hardeners. These chemicals often get transferred to the eyelids when you touch your face.

 

Atopic Dermatitis

Eyelid dermatitis can often result from atopic dermatitis caused by allergies to pollens, pet dander, molds and dust mites. Although atopic dermatitis usually affects various areas of the body, including the flexural surfaces, it may occur on the eyelids alone, which is more common among adults.

Atopic dermatitis caused by food allergies can also affect the area of the face and eyelids, especially in children.

 

Other Diseases Causes Eyelid Rash

As it mentioned earlier, eyelid rash may also be caused by other conditions including autoimmune conditions like dermatomyositis or systemic lupus erythematosus. When the eyelid rash is caused by an autoimmune disease, there are normally other symptoms present as well. These may include weight loss, fevers, fatigue, muscle pain, and night sweats.

 

Eyelid Rash Treatment

Eyelid rash caused by allergic reactions, such as contact dermatitis or atopic dermatitis, can be treated by certain skin creams. For example, topical steroids are among the most common treatments of eczema these days. However, due to the fact that the skin on the eyelids is sensitive and, therefore, susceptible to the side effects of medicines, the eyelid rash should be treated only with low potency topical steroids (e.g. over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream), for a short period and with extreme caution. Make sure to prevent topical steroids from getting into your eyes, since they may cause some serious side effects like glaucoma or cataract.

There are also other topicals that can be used for the treatment of eyelid dermatitis, such as topical calcineurin inhibitors, Elidel or Protopic. These are FDA-approved medications that treat atopic dermatitis in adults and children older than 2 years of age. These alternative medications can be considered safer than topical steroids, as they do not cause as many side effects as the latter do, which is why they can be used on any skin, including sensitive areas. Besides, these topicals can be used for prolonged periods without  their effectiveness. Being lost

Immunotherapy for Atopic Dermatitis

Immunotherapy for Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis, more commonly referred to as eczema, is one of the basic forms of allergic reactions. It usually occurs in infants and children younger than 5 years of age. The majority of people affected by atopic dermatitis are allergic to certain substances. The rash  of atopic dermatitis is usually caused by allergens present in the environment, such as pollen, molds, pet dander and dust mites, as well as in foods.

Development of allergic rhinitis and asthma is common in children with atopic dermatitis. While allergic rhinitis occurs rather at school age, asthma is more likely to develop by adolescence. This progression of the disease is known as atopic march.

There are various treatment options available for atopic dermatitis, including the avoidance of allergic triggers, as well as the use of medications. In addition, according to recent studies, atopic dermatitis can be also successfully treated with immunotherapy.

Immunotherapy involves taking allergy shots and allergy drops. It has been used for years to treat such allergic diseases as allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis, or allergic asthma. This type of treatment is the only option that can possibly cure the disease.

Atopic Dermatitis and Allergy Shots

Over the past years, several research studies have explored the atopic dermatitis treating properties of allergy shots. Some of these studies have shown that the use of the allergy shots can actually help to reduce the symptoms of atopic dermatitis, based on the SCORAD (Scoring Atopic Dermatitis) numbers. Allergy shots can also help decrease the amount of topical steroids that are required for the treatment.

Interestingly, research indicated that the treatment with allergy shots worked best for severe cases of atopic dermatitis and for atopic dermatitis caused by dust mites.

Atopic Dermatitis and Allergy Drops

Although this method of allergy treatment has been used for decades in various countries including the European countries, the Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved allergy drops in the United States.

Sublingual immunotherapy involves the use of allergy drops – the substance to which a patient is allergic is placed under the person’s tongue. The effects of allergy drops are similar to those of allergy shots. They include reducing the symptoms of allergy, decreasing the number of topical steroids needed, as well as potentially curing the allergy. Allergy drops are widely used for treating allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis, and allergic asthma.

The use of allergy drops for atopic dermatitis is not common. However, some studies have found that allergy drops may be effective for atopic dermatitis triggered by dust mite allergy. This applies only to mild to moderate atopic dermatitis – allergy drops do not work for severe atopic dermatitis.

How Safe Is Immunotherapy for Atopic Dermatitis?

Allergy drops are a safe treatment that has a very low risk of anaphylaxis. They are traditionally given at home. Immunotherapy with allergy shots, however, should be monitored in a physician’s office for about half an hour, due to the possibility of anaphylaxis.

Despite the fact that immunotherapy is a relatively safe and effective treatment option for atopic dermatitis, about one fifth of patients experienced complications after taking allergy shots or drops.

Everything You Should Know About Hay Fever

Everything You Should Know About Hay Fever

In the article below, you will find all the necessary information about allergic
rhinitis, also known as hay fever, including its causes, symptoms, diagnosis and
treatment options.

Definition of Hay Fever

Allergic rhinitis, otherwise known as hay fever, is the most common chronic disease, as well as
the major reason for chronic sinus and nasal problems. Hay fever affects up to one third of the
population.

The groups of population most affected by the disease include children and young people.
However, the symptoms of hay fever also often occur in older adults and elderly people.

The Cause of Hay Fever

Hay fever usually occurs as a result of seasonal allergies caused by airborne plant pollens. These
pollens are typically present in the spring or fall seasons.

Pollen is a powdery substance that is released from flowering plants like trees, weeds and
grasses. This substance consists of microscopic grains, typically yellow, that are transported by
the wind or insects and serve for reproductive purposes. Each pollen grain contains a male
gamete (sperm cell).

There are several types of pollen that cause quite significant allergic reactions and lead to hay
fever. Those include grass pollen in summer, ragweed pollen in autumn, as well as mountain
cedar pollen in winter or spring.

Hay Fever Symptoms

Both seasonal and year-round allergens cause inflammation and irritation of the nasal passages,
which in turn triggers hay fever symptoms. These symptoms are sneezing, runny nose, nasal
congestion, itching of the nose, post-nasal drip, dark circles under the eyes, sore throat, trouble
smelling or tasting, and recurrent sinus infections. The symptoms of hay fever don’t necessarily
occur altogether, and one (or several) symptoms may predominate.

Hay Fever Diagnosis

A person can be diagnosed with hay fever, if he reports convincing symptoms, and physical
exams confirm the presence of the disease. However, experts recommend allergy testing to
diagnose hay fever properly.

Hay fever diagnosis requires positive allergy testing. If the testing is negative, a patient rather
has non-allergic rhinitis.

Allergy testing can be done in two ways – with blood tests and skin tests. However, the latter
option is the preferred method, since it tends to be more accurate.

Treating Hay Fever

There are several approaches to the treatment of hay fever. Utilizing two or more of this
approaches at the same time helps to treat the hay fever symptoms most efficiently. Thus, the
ways to treat hay fever are to avoid the allergens, to take medications or through immunotherapy.

Avoiding Allergy Triggers

Sometimes, the best way to prevent a disease is to avoid the causes, which also applies to hay
fever. However, avoiding airborne pollen can be challenging during the plants’ pollination
period. The substance is present in the outdoor air and it can easily get into your home, once you
open a window or door. Certain tips, such as wearing a mask, or staying indoors on windy days,
can help to minimize the pollen exposure.

Taking Allergy Medications

In many cases, to treat hay fever symptoms properly, a person needs to take medications. The
pharmaceutical market today offers various medicines for the treatment of hay fever, and
specific medications are required for individual cases, depending on the factors like the severity
and frequency of the symptoms, the cause and type of the hay fever, the form of medication that
is best suitable for a person, as well as the side effects brought by the medication.

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is normally the next recommended option, if the methods of avoidance and
medications are not effective enough to control the symptoms.
Immunotherapy helps to develop immunity to the hay fever trigger(s). This method of treatment
implies taking a number of injections which contain small amounts of allergenic substances. In
most cases, a course of such allergy shots is enough to significantly reduce hay fever symptoms,
or even cure them completely.

The most frequently-used form of anti-allergy immunotherapy nowadays is sublingual therapy,
otherwise known as allergy drops. However, this method has not yet been approved by the Food
and Drug Administration, which is why the traditional form of immunotherapy, allergy shots,
remains more common in the United States.

Hay Fever and Everyday Life

Hay fever can really affect a person’s daily routine, and in order to keep living a normal during
the allergy season, many people take medicines.

Hay fever symptoms can be relieved with the help of a wide variety of medications, from over-
the-counter drugs to prescription medicines, and even alternative options. The only option,
however, that can actually make a person less allergic by changing a person’s immune system’s
reaction to allergens is immunotherapy. Yet, success of the therapy cannot be guaranteed.

Complete Guide to Ragweed Allergy

Complete Guide to Ragweed Allergy

Ragweed allergy is quite a common condition, and its outbreak season starts in
late summer and lasts until October or November. The article below provides all
the information you need about ragweed pollen allergy.


Ragweed Pollination Period

The fall season is often associated with cooler weather, rain, trees losing their leaves, and flu
season. For people allergic to ragweed, fall also means the outbreak of allergy.

Ragweed pollen is one of the major fall allergy triggers. The ragweed pollination period starts in
August and lasts until October.

Highest Concentration of Pollen in the Air

The small grains of ragweed pollen are spread through the air and cannot be seen with a naked
eye. The pollen’s highest concentration in the air is during the morning hours or after a rainstorm
when the plant is drying out. The air also contains more pollen on windy days.

Highest Concentration of Pollen on the Land

Ragweed can be found anywhere, especially in fields, alongside the highways, as well as in
vacant lots. The plant is spread all over the world from Hawaii to Europe, but it is more
concentrated in the Midwestern region and along the East Coast of the United States of America.

Common Symptoms of Ragweed Allergy

Ragweed pollen allergy shares the same symptoms as allergies to other pollens like trees,
flowers, and even marijuana. Those symptoms include allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis
and allergic asthma.

Ragweed allergy symptoms usually occur somewhere between August and September and last
until October or November. The duration of the outbreaks depends on the climate.

How Is Ragweed Related to Food Allergies?

The pollen of ragweed has similar proteins to certain fruits, which makes ragweed allergy related
to certain food allergies. The fruits related to ragweed include watermelon, cantaloupe,
honeydew melon, cucumbers and bananas.

This connection means that people allergic to ragweed may experience certain allergic symptoms
after eating these fresh fruits, especially during the ragweed pollination season. The symptoms
include itching and tingling of the mouth. The condition described above is known as oral
allergy syndrome, or fruit-pollen syndrome.

Ragweed Allergy Treatment

Ragweed Allergy are often treated by allergy shots and allergy drops. These treatment options
have been well studied and are known to be effective. To determine the best option in your case,
you should speak with your allergist.

Avoiding Ragweed Pollen

In fact, pollen allergies are way more difficult to avoid than allergies to dust mites or pet dander,
since their triggers are present in the outdoor air. However, it is possible to minimize the
exposure to the pollen by keeping doors, windows, as well as car windows closed to prevent
pollen from drifting inside; minimizing morning activity, as pollen is emitted during this period;
staying indoors on windy days or when the pollen count is reported to be high; drying bedding
and clothing in the machine, as pollen may collect in laundry if it is hung outdoors; ad finally,
taking a vacation to a pollen-free area during highest pollen season – to the beach or an ocean.

Springtime Allergies and What They Are Caused by

Springtime Allergies and What They Are Caused by

Springtime is a period when many people experience allergy symptoms. In this
article, most common spring allergy triggers are discussed, as well as the
symptoms they cause.

In most people, seasonal allergy symptoms occur during the spring season. Many seasonal
allergens are activated, once spring comes and the weather gets warmer. Among the most
common spring allergy triggers are blooming plants. In spring, many trees and grasses start to
pollinate, as well as colourful flowers start blooming, which causes high pollen concentration in
the air and effects those with seasonal allergies.

Pollen as a Spring Allergy Trigger

Depending on the location and climate, trees normally start pollinating anytime from January to
April, and during this period, pollen they release tends to be the most common allergy trigger.

Severe allergies during pollen season are mainly caused by such trees as oak, olive, elm, birch,
ash, hickory, poplar, sycamore, maple, cypress, and walnut. Most of these trees pollinate do not
pollinate in the fall, apart from elm.

Another strong allergen that is active mostly during the late spring and early summer is grass
pollen. However, grass pollen may affect a person, if this person is mowing the lawn or lying in
the grass. Moreover, people who are allergic to grass pollen may experience contact urticaria
after a contact with grass. The symptoms of the conditions include itching and hives.

Allergies Caused by Rabbits

While dogs and cats remain the most popular animals to have for a pet, non-traditional mascots
are becoming more and more widespread. Rabbits are among animals that are often owned as
pets these days. Many people give rabbits as gifts during the Easter season. However, these
animals may trigger allergic reactions, since they carry allergens in their hair, dander and urine.

In fact, positive allergy testing to rabbit allergens, especially dander, is quite common.
The symptoms of rabbit allergies may include allergic rhinitis, asthma, and even hives.

Flowers and Springtime Allergies

Brightly coloured flowers blooming during springtime are often blamed for hay fever symptoms
in people with nasal allergies. However, such flowers are least likely to cause their symptoms. In
fact, most bright-flowered plants cause significant allergy symptoms only after a close contact,
since such flowers are rather pollinated by insects, than the wind.

Although hay fever symptoms do worsen during the brightly coloured flowers’ blooming season,
these symptoms are actually caused by the pollen in the air that people cannot see. Therefore,
most people with flower allergies may in fact be allergic to the pollen of other plants.

Topical Steroids for Skin Diseases

Topical Steroids for Skin Diseases

Many types of skin allergies, including eczema, can be treated with topical steroids. Topical steroids
are anti-inflammatory medications that help to reduce itching, flaking and oozing on the skin. They
have to be applied to skin daily, one or more times a day.

Topical steroids are normally prescribed for patients with eczema that cannot be treated with skin
moisturizers alone.

Types of Topical Steroids

There are many types of topical steroids, as well as packages in which the medications are available.
Some topical steroids can be stronger than others, or come in higher concentrations. They are also
available in different topical formulations like creams, lotions, ointments, etc.

Topical steroids can also be available both by prescription and over the counter. An example of an
over-the- counter topical steroid is hydrocortisone acetate 1% cream.

Lotion, Cream or Ointment?

The potency of topical steroids often depends on how the medication is packaged. The same topical
steroid may have diverse levels of potency, when placed in different formulations. The strongest
type of medications containing topical steroids are ointments, which are followed by creams,
lotions, solutions, gels, and sprays being the lightest option.

Topical Steroids for Children

Only lower potency topical steroids are recommended to be used on children, since their skin is
more sensitive and, therefore, more prone to various adverse reactions caused by the medications.
Nowadays, there are two topical steroids more often recommended for use in children due to the fact
that the less of the medication is absorbed into the body and they can be used only once a day. These
topical steroids are mometasone furoate (marketed as Elocon) and fluticasone propionate (marketed
as Cutivate). The latter is the only topical steroid, approved for the Food and Drug Administration
for infants from 3 months of age.

Topical Steroids for Sensitive Areas of the Skin

Topical steroids may affect the sensitive skin on the face causing some undesirable side effects. Besides,
the medication may lead to glaucoma or cataract formation, if it gets into the eyes. Therefore, if you
decide to treat eczema on the face skin with topical steroids, it is recommended to apply the smallest
amount of the lowest potency topical steroids for the shortest period of time possible.
Other areas of the body that are more prone to the topical steroids’ side effects include the areas with
thinner skin like eyelids, genitals, etc., as well as the areas of skin folds like the armpits, groin, or under
the breasts in women. These areas of the body should be also treated with caution and only with low
potency topical steroids.

Topical Steroids’ Side Effects

Topical steroids usually cause side effects on the areas where the medication is applied.

Side effects from topical steroids are most often seen on the areas of skin where the medication is
applied. Common side effects of topical steroids include irritation, redness, burning, peeling and
thinning of the skin, pigmentation, blood vessel formation, rosacea, perioral dermatitis, acne,
delayed wound healing ability, increased susceptibility to skin infections, as well as contact
dermatitis caused by the substance itself.

When the body absorbs a great amount of topical steroids, the medication may sometimes cause a
systemic effect which includes the symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome. To avoid the risk of
developing this condition, it is recommended not to use the medication over large areas of the skin,
in the areas of sensitive skin, or for extended periods of time.

The probability of the development of the topical steroids’ side effects also depends on the potency
of the corticosteroid, and whether an occlusion dressing is applied over the steroid.

Topical Steroids Classified by Potency

Experts usually separate topical steroids into seven categories based on their level of potency. The
categories, from the strongest to the weakest, are presented below:

Category 1: Temovate (clobetasol) 0.05% cream and ointment, Diprolene (betamethasone) 0.05%
cream and ointment.
Category 2: Lidex (fluocinonide) 0.05% available in any formulation, Topicort (desoximetasone)
0.25% cream, gel, or ointment, and Elocon (mometasone furoate) 0.1% ointment.
Category 3: Topicort (desoximetasone) 0.05% cream, Cutivate (fluticasone proprionate) 0.005%
ointment.
Category 4: Westcort (hydrocortisone valerate) 0.2% ointment, Kenalog (triamcinolone) 0.1%
cream, Elocon (mometasone furoate) 0.1% cream.
Category 5: Cutivate (fluticasone proprionate) 0.05% cream, Westcort (hydrocortisone valerate)
0.2% cream.
Category 6: Desonate (desonide) 0.05% cream.
Category 7: Cortaid (hydrocortisone acetate), available in various forms and concentrations.

OTC Hydrocortisone Cream or Prescription Topical Steroids?

Depending on the severity of the skin disease, you may use over-the- counter hydrocortisone cream
or you may need a prescription medication. Hydrocortisone creams are often effective for mild cases
of condition. However, if the symptoms are severe and long-lasting, you may need a stronger
medication available under prescription.

It is important to remember that prescription topical steroids should only be used by people they are
prescribed for and by anyone else. This is to avoid the risks of undesirable side effects of the
medication.

Common Summertime Allergy Triggers

Common Summertime Allergy Triggers

Summer is a season when many common allergens become active and different triggers can cause allergic reactions. Below, you will find some kind of an informational guide to allergies occurring during summer.

Summertime Allergies

Percentage of the time people spend outdoors throughout the year is highest in summer. Picnics at the beach, camping, backyard barbeques – all these typical summer activities come with the risk of outdoor allergies that may ruin the whole summer for some people. Summertime allergies may be triggered by various allergens such as summer pollens, stinging and biting insects, hidden food ingredients, or smoke from campfires and barbeques.

Grass Pollen as a Summer Allergy Trigger

In summer, pollen allergies are most commonly caused by grass pollen whose concentration in the air is the highest, compared to other pollens. The symptoms of grass pollen allergy may include sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and asthma attacks. Physical contact with grass may also cause hives and itching in some people.

In fact, it is almost impossible to avoid grass pollen exposure or even direct contacts with grass during summertime season. However, there are some tips that help to keep allergy symptoms to a minimum. Thus, it is recommended to use various allergy and asthma medications in order to reduce the symptoms. Another measure is to wear a mask, if the air is full of grass pollen, e.g. after mowing the lawn. Moreover, allergy symptoms like itching can normally be prevented, if you take antihistamine 1-2 hours prior to the grass exposure.

Hidden Allergenic Ingredients in Picnic Foods

Outdoor picnics and barbeques are among the most popular summer activities. However, since food at picnics is often brought by many different people, it can be dangerous and cause an allergic reaction in people prone to food allergies, as it may contain various hidden ingredients. People with food allergies can be exposed to different allergy triggers, including peanut and other nuts, egg, milk, or seafood.

Allergic reactions to food mainly happen right after accidentally eating a specific food. It is strongly recommended for people with food allergies to always be prepared to treat an allergic reaction.

Allergies to Smoke

We are exposed to smoke from various sources more frequently during summer, too, and in most people, smoke exposure leads to non-allergic irritation of the eyes, nose and lungs. However, there are also people who are allergic to smoke.

Exposure to the smoke can cause an allergic reaction, in case you are allergic to the pollen of the tree that was used to produce the wood.

It is important for people with asthma and sensitive eyes and nose to avoid direct exposure to the smoke from campfires and barbeques. In addition, it is advised to always keep asthma rescue medications available, to minimize risks.

Stinging and Biting Insects Causing Allergic Reactions

Summertime is a period when the activity of insects is significantly increased. Stinging insects like bees, wasps and yellow-jackets, as well as biting insects such as mosquitoes can present a real danger to certain people. In most cases, insect bites and stings cause localized pain, itching and swelling. But in some people the symptoms might be more severe: they may experience hives, trouble breathing and even life-threatening reactions like anaphylaxis.

Insect allergies are a type of allergies that can be cured, so if you are suffering from such an allergy, you need to discuss the treatment options with your allergist.

The most effective way to prevent allergic reactions is to avoid contacts with stinging and biting insects as much as possible. Precautionary measures considering insect allergies include:

  • Avoiding brightly coloured clothing, as well as flowery prints;
  • Avoiding perfumes and other scented products that might be attractive for stinging insects;
  • Wearing pants, long-sleeved shirts, close-toed shoes and sock, when spending time outdoors;
  • Checking food and drinks before eating or drinking outdoors, as many stinging insects are attracted to sugary treats;
  • Using mosquito repellents, such as sprays and lotions applied to the skin or citronella candles releasing a mosquito-repelling scent.

Seasonal Allergies: Symptoms, Causes and Avoidance Tactics

Seasonal Allergies: Symptoms, Causes and Avoidance Tactics

Below, you will find the article offering an informational guide to seasonal allergies. The information provided includes symptoms, causes, types of seasonal allergies, as well as the ways to avoid and minimize the risks of experiencing the seasonal allergy symptoms.

A seasonal allergy occurs during some specific part of the year, such as spring or fall, as a reaction to a trigger that is typically present only for this season. This type of allergy is referred to as hay fever or pollen allergy, since it is caused by pollen, such as trees, weeds, and grasses.

There is also another type of allergy – perennial allergy – that is triggered by pet dander or house dust mite. Unlike, pollen allergy, perennial allergy is usually present year-round. In addition, such an allergen as mold can be as seasonal as perennial.

Common Seasonal Allergy Symptoms

There are several symptoms that might indicate seasonal allergy. Those include sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, itching of the nose, and post-nasal drip. These symptoms do not necessarily come all together, and in many cases, only one symptom dominates. In fact, the difference between seasonal allergies and the common cold is difficult to determine, and sometimes, it can only be done by a specialist.

Pollen as a Seasonal Allergy Trigger

Pollen is a very fine powder consisting of tiny, egg-shaped grains, produced by flowering plants. These grains containing male reproductive cells of the plants are crucial in the plants’ fertilization process. Carried by either wind or insects, pollens cross-pollinate other plants for reproductive purposes. When the air is full of pollen, it causes an allergic reaction by landing in the eyes, nose, lungs, and skin of a person. Symptoms that may occur include allergic rhinitis (hay fever), allergic conjunctivitis (eye allergies) and allergic asthma.

Unlike insect-spread pollen, wind-carried pollen is a cause of the majority of allergy cases. Those plants that have bright, vibrant flowers, e.g. roses, are pollinated by insects, which means the pollen rarely gets into the air, and therefore, those plants do not normally cause seasonal allergy.

Pollen grains often travels long distances making the pollen level in the air vary from day to day, as well as area to area. The same city or region can have different levels of pollen in different zones. Normally, the pollen level is at its peak from early morning to more or less 10 a.m. It can be hard to avoid pollen, but theoretically, there are certain ways to do that.

Spring Allergies Triggers

Spring allergy normally occurs as soon as trees start pollinating, which, depending on the climate and location, may happen anytime from January to April. Among the trees whose pollen triggers severe allergies, are oak, olive, elm, birch, ash, hickory, poplar, sycamore, maple, cypress, and walnut. Springtime allergy may also be caused by weeds, that in certain parts of the world pollinate in spring.

Summer Allergies Triggers

Allergies in late spring and early summer are typically triggered by the pollen produced by grass. In fact, grass might cause allergic reaction for most of the year, the levels of grass pollen are highest during this period. An allergy caused by grass pollen is called contact urticaria. Its symptoms include itching and hives occurring after a contact with grass.

There are two major categories of grasses – northern, that are common in colder climates, and southern, common for warmer climates. Northern grasses include timothy, rye, orchard, sweet vernal, red top, and blue grasses, while the major grass in the southern grass category if Bermuda grass.

Fall Allergies Triggers

During late summer and early fall period, seasonal allergy is mainly caused by weed pollen. Weeds that can cause allergy include ragweed, sagebrush, pigweed, tumbleweed, and cocklebur. Depending on the location, the pollen of one or some of the weeds listed above may trigger allergic reaction.

Determining Pollens’ Presence in the Air

Usually, pollen is measured and counted, so that the type of pollen could be identified. It is possible to identify the pollen of trees, weeds and grasses. It is also possible to determine the type of trees or weeds. However, the type of grasses is rarely identified, since grasses do not differ visually under a microscope.

Identifying the Type of Pollen That’s Causing Your Allergy

If you think you have a seasonal allergy, you are recommended to visit an allergist. The doctor will help to determine whether you have pollen allergy, as well as the type of pollen causing your allergy. This is done by skin or blood analysis. Allergy testing is beneficial, since it predicts the periods throughout the year when you are most prone to allergy. In addition, you will have to conduct allergy testing, if you are interested in taking allergy shots.

Avoiding Pollen Exposure

Seasonal allergies are more likely to occur, since the exposure to pollen, present in the outdoor air, is almost unavoidable during the peak seasons. Still, there are some recommendations to help you keep your pollen exposure at its minimum level. This can be achieved by keeping windows closed to prevent pollen entering your home; minimizing early morning activity, especially outdoor activity; keeping your car windows closed when moving; avoiding mowing the lawn, as well as the grass that’s been freshly cut; drying clothes in a washing machine to prevent pollen from collecting in laundry if hung outside; staying indoors on the days with reported high pollen levels or on windy days, since the wind causes higher amounts of pollen in the air; and finally, taking a vacation during pollen peak seasons and traveling to a more pollen-free place.

What Do Experts Know About Sun Allergy?

What Do Experts Know About Sun Allergy?

There are people who, when exposed to sunlight, experience symptoms, similar to those of an allergic reaction: itching or burning sensation, gives, or even rashes. This makes people think they have a sun allergy.

In fact, only a few of them truly have a hereditary type of sun allergy, and therefore, are more sensitive to sunlight.

There are certain medications and topical agents that may cause an allergy-like reaction on the skin after exposure to the sun. In most cases of “sun allergy”, the skin’s reaction to sun exposure occurs as result of the use of such medications.

Skin’s reaction to sunlight usually occurs on the open areas of the skin surface that are easily accessible to the sun. The symptoms of the reaction include the presence of blisters or hives, red skin, itchiness or pain, tiny bumps, areas of scaling, crusting or bleeding skin.

Sun-Induced Hives

Sun-induced hives, also known as solar urticaria, is a skin condition in which exposure to the sunlight leads to development of hives. Such symptoms include itchy, red skin and hives on the areas exposed to the sun.

The symptoms of solar urticaria are quite similar to the symptoms of a sunburn. The main difference between the two is the length of time the condition is present. Unlike sunburn, that occurs after several hours of sun exposure and lasts for several days, solar urticaria can occur within a few minutes of sun exposure and last for less than one day.

Cholinergic Urticaria

Another form of chronic hives is cholinergic urticaria, more commonly known as heat urticaria. This type of hives may occur as a result of an increase in body temperature, including hot showers, exercise, spicy food, etc. Some people with cholinergic urticaria can develop the symptoms after experiencing strong emotions.

Photo-Contact Dermatitis

Various skin products may be causing allergy, including sunscreens. There are people whose skin may react to sunscreen and develop the symptoms of contact dermatitis. The rash may occur anywhere on the areas of the skin where the product was applied. However, exposure to the sunlight increases the probability of an allergic reaction. This condition is called photo-contact dermatitis.

Photo-contact dermatitis normally affect the areas of the skin such as the face, the area of the upper chest, the backs of the hands and forearms. These areas are usually the most sun-exposed.

Other Causes of Sun Sensitivity

An allergy-like reaction of the skin triggered by sunlight may also be caused by other diseases, including porphyria or systemic lupus erythematosus, which are very serious medical conditions. This is why it is important to consult a doctor, if you experience any allergic symptoms after the sun exposure.

Treatment of Sun Allergy

In the majority of cases, the conditions that are referred to as sun allergy resolve on their own with time. To alleviate the symptoms, you may use some soothing skin balms available over-the-counter, for instance, calamine lotion or aloe vera.

However, more serious cases of sun allergy are also possible. Those can be treated with such medications as ibuprofen, or even systemic or topical steroids. To avoid the development of a severe reaction to sunlight, it is recommended to minimize the time you spend outdoors, while the sunlight is strongest, or use covering to protect your skin.