What are the main types of allergic reaction?
Skin: The #1 site of allergic reactions
Skin forms a protective envelope surrounding the body. It acts as an “interface” with the outside world and is therefore highly exposed to allergens. Allergic reactions on skin take many forms, including hives, contact dermatitis and eczema. Each has its own specific clinical signs and treatments, but the cardinal features are itching and burning skin, as well as more dramatic reactions with raised swelling or rashes. Click HERE for detailed information on skin allergic reactions.
What can I do? If your skin suffers from allergic-like reactions, you may wish to see a dermatologist or allergist. But also talk to your pharmacist about products specifically formulated for sensitive to allergic skin, or thermal spring water mists. Discover Toleriane Ultra if your skin needs SOS soothing now, look HERE for tips.
Eyes: Allergic conjunctivitis
Allergens landing on the eye’s protective membrane cause redness, watering and lots of annoying itching. Pollen and other airborne allergens like pet fur are key causes. But if you regularly suffer from the condition, it’s also worth taking a look at your bathroom shelf. Certain products (mascara, foundation, sun protection…) can migrate towards the eye. If they contain allergenic preservatives, fragrances or generally pro-stinging substances, they can add to the irritation.
What can I do? Over-the-counter allergy eye drops from your pharmacy are your first point of call, but there are other simple things you can do to reduce eye symptoms. When your smartphone tells you pollen levels are off the charts, make sure you shower and wash your hair when you get back home as swishing your locks may cover your skin with pollen! And of course, avoid rubbing your eyes as the itch will only get worse, and never touch your eyes without washing your hands first. You can also invest in allergic skin friendly cosmetics if this is one of your triggers. Discover Toleriane Ultra.
Nose: Hay fever (allergic rhinitis)
The body “thinks” it is under attack from pollen and floods the system with pro-inflammatory substances. The symptoms are basically a stuffy nose and lots of sneezing, though hay fever often goes hand in hand with conjunctivitis and asthma.
What can I do? Life’s too short to sit inside all spring with the windows shut, so ask your pharmacist about favourites to treat the condition such as antihistamines and steroid nasal sprays. If your nose is looking a little red and irritated, try a soothing and repairing care product to be left on overnight. Discover Cicaplast Baume B5.
Lungs: Allergic asthma
Allergic asthma involves airborne allergens - pollen of course, but also household offenders such as animal dander and house dust mite - which get into the lining of our lungs. The allergic reaction causes the muscles around our airways to tighten up. Their lining becomes inflamed and secretes excess mucus. This leads to coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and even severe asthma attacks in some cases.
What can I do? Asthma is a complex condition to be managed by your doctor, but the mainstay of treatment involves “preventer” and “reliever” inhalers.
Gut: Food allergy
Food allergies are on the rise, affecting 5% of adults and 8% of children today. They involve food proteins - famous examples include peanut, milk and shellfish - which trigger an immune reaction in the gut with the potential to affect the whole body. Reactions range from mild (stomach ache, itchy mouth, hives) to severe (swelling of the mouth and throat, and even life-threatening anaphylaxis).
What can I do? The mainstay of treatment involves an elimination diet. Your allergist will advise you on whether you need to carry an Epipen and explain how to use it.
*J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2014 Feb;133(2):291-307; quiz 308. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2013.11.020. Epub 2013 Dec 31.
Food allergy: Epidemiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment.
Sicherer SH1, Sampson HA2