Now is that season when one in five of us have itchy, watery eyes; are constantly sneezing; have a puffy face; a red nose, along with some breakout spots….yes, it’s hay fever time!! I never suffered from hay fever until I was pregnant with my second child and have always wondered if hormones played a part in my getting it! I remember being invited to a summer barbecue, getting all dressed up, when on arrival in this lovely garden set up – I couldn’t stop sneezing! I felt miserable and wondered how I managed to pick up a cold during summer, not realising it was hay fever.
Fast forward to now and I start preparing for the hay fever season by stocking up on Beconase nasal spray which is the thing that works for me. Two sprays at night and two sprays in the morning is part of my routine which starts in April. Now if for some reason I forgot to start this in April – it can mean a really crappy time for me, affecting my mood, lifestyle and my skin!! On those days when it is bad, my eyes are so watery and itchy that I struggle to wear my contact lenses and the constant sneezing 🤧 simply gets my normal high energy positive-self to be a real moody, tired woman!
WHAT CAUSES HAY FEVER?
Hay fever is a common allergic reaction that is caused when the body makes allergic antibodies to certain substances. Grass pollen is the most common allergen (May to July), but tree (February to June) and weed (June to September) pollens can also cause the allergic reaction we know as hay fever.
HOW CAN ALLERGIES AFFECT YOUR SKIN?
When an allergen enters your body, the immune system overreacts attacking it as it would bacteria or a virus. This stimulates the release of histamine which leads to the sneezing, itchy eyes and sometimes, breathing difficulties.
But, that reaction inside your body can affect your skin too, even if you didn’t actually touch something that you’re allergic to. In fact, skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis and hives are likely to flare upright when your allergies do, as they are connected to your immune system.
That’s why allergens like pollen can lead to inflammation, dryness, irritation and puffiness around the eyes. It can also affect your skin’s protective barrier, making you ultra-sensitive to your regular skincare.
Remember the skin on the face is much more delicate than anywhere else on the body and so it’s especially important to take good care of it when you suffer from allergies.
Skin that becomes dry and irritated, can become dehydrated and feel rough which can cause breakouts as well as promoting wrinkles and fine lines. Skin allergies can affect your scalp too, causing it to itch or become dryer than usual.
HOW TO ALLERGY-PROOF YOUR SKIN:
Do more than take antihistamines
Although antihistamines can reduce the sensation of itch, topical treatments are usually needed too. The more you scratch your skin, the itchier the skin becomes as scratching tends to release more histamine. So think about adapting your skincare regime to calm the skin and reduce ongoing irritation and itching.
Hydrate your skin
Start with cleansing your skin thoroughly morning and evening to rid of any pollen particles on your face. Then follow up with a hydrating serum and at nights use a more hydrating moisturiser or overnight mask to ensure your skin is well moisturised.
Look after your eyes
Use gentle eye make-up remover on the delicate skin of the eyelids that contain ingredients such as chamomile which will soothe the eyes. Apply a light eye cream to keep the eye area hydrated. Eye drops or mists can stop additional dryness too, so try Optrex’s Itchy Eye Drops, if you are struggling.
Repair your skin barrier
Dry, sensitive skin can have a ‘leaky’ barrier that cannot hold on to moisture – this is called transepidermal water loss or TEWL for short. This means that the protective skin barrier can be compromised and not offer full protection against bacteria and potential allergens.
To keep your skin’s barrier as healthy as possible, I strongly recommend using the most gentle cleanser you can find. JL Revitalising Cleanser is one to have a look at which contains Rosehip seed oil and will clean the skin without disrupting the skin barrier and causing further water loss.
Wear sun protection
Now you know you should be wearing sunscreen consistently to protect your skin from sunburn and premature skin ageing sun damage can cause, but the sun can also exacerbate skin allergy symptoms.
Focus on hydrating your skin
Look for hydrating skincare products that contain hyaluronic acid to help any dry skin caused by irritation, especially around the nose area.
In general, look for skincare that contains soothing ingredients like chamomile, aloe vera as well as those specifically known for hydration such as ceramides and humectants.
Your face can definitely feel swollen after a day of suffering from allergy symptoms, so try a gua sha facial massage tool or a jade roller, which will eliminate puffiness by improving your circulation. Always be careful when using these facial tools and do not apply too much pressure.
As I mentioned already, starting your allergy nasal spray before the allergy gets really bad is a good tip. Don’t use toilet tissue on the skin around the nose as this is too rough on your facial skin. Use pack tissues that are made for sensitive skin that contain aloe vera. Be careful of overblowing your nose as this can break the blood vessels at the sides of the nose.
Invest in an air purifier
You can avoid allergens following you into your home by changing your clothes at the end of the day and by showering before bed so your sleep is not disturbed.
You might want to invest in an air purifier, for example, Philips’ Air Purifier, which captures allergens and pollutants from the air. That way you can limit the indoor pollution that your skin and immune system have to fight each day! This would help achieve a better complexion, a healthier body and a more restful sleep.
Finally, when going outside, put on the biggest sunglasses you possess which will help prevent the pollen from entering your eyes.