Seasonal allergies, commonly referred to as hay fever, can be debilitating for the millions of Americans who suffer. Allergies, which tend to be particularly bad in the spring and fall, can feel like a bad cold or flu at worst and most commonly leave people with watery eyes, itchy throats, and runny noses at best. And while there are plenty of over-the- counter medicines that people can grab and go, for those with the worst allergies these don’t tend to be effective. Furthermore, allergies can wreak havoc on sensitive skin and so can some of the allergy medications that are most commonly used.
So what do we do to help our clients cope with seasonal allergies and still look their very best? The answer is not that much more complicated than any of the other skin care questions that our industry faces on a daily basis.
What Are Seasonal Allergies
When the pollen is high and you feel sick, it likely means that you have seasonal allergies. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology:
In many areas of the United States, spring allergies begin in February and last until the early summer. Tree pollination begins earliest in the year followed by grass pollination later in the spring and summer and ragweed in the late summer and fall. In tropical climates, however, grass may pollinate throughout a good portion of the year. Mild winter temperatures can cause plants to pollinate early. A rainy spring can also promote rapid plant growth and lead to an increase in mold, causing symptoms to last well into the fall.
The most common culprit for fall allergies is ragweed, a plant that grows wild almost everywhere, but especially on the East Coast and in the Midwest. Ragweed blooms and releases pollen from August to November. In many areas of the country, ragweed pollen levels are highest in early to mid-September.
Other plants that trigger fall allergies include:
- Burning bush
- Sagebrush and mugwort
- Tumbleweed and Russian thistle
The allergy is caused by the body releasing antibodies, such as histamine, which cause a reaction that is felt by the person. Basically the body is having a response that it would not have in a non-allergic person.
What Seasonal Allergies Do To Skin
Accuweather, a meteorologic resource actually covers some of this exceptionally well. The editors point out, through interviews with dermatologists, some of the most common reasons that allergies impact the skin. On the top of their list is the relationship between runny, itchy eyes and skin irritation that comes from people constantly rubbing their eyes. “Constant rubbing can also lead to an accentuation of the skin folds around the eyes. When someone has irritated skin, the area below the eyes can form an extra line of skin, called a Dennie-Morgan fold. The fold occurs due to swelling that occurs from skin inflammation.”
Other impacts include eczema that can get worse due to rubbing and itching, and “allergic shiners” which are caused by the collection of fluid under the eyes which leads to the accentuation of dark circles. As noted by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, “ Nasal allergy symptoms (allergic rhinitis) can really beat up some patients. Dark circles under the eyes are due to swelling and discoloration from congestion of small blood vessels beneath the skin in this area. This can give the appearance of having “gone a few rounds” on the playground.The symptoms of allergic rhinitis often produce a combination of gestures and facial features, particularly in children and teens.” (Source).
Other symptoms can include blotchy and reddened skin, and when the skin itself has a reaction to pollen landing on it, there is the possibility of a rash or hives breaking out.
Skin Care in Allergy Season
In our field, we see people who want to look their best, their youngest, and their most healthy and vibrant. The TSLMS spends a lot of time helping our membership to help patients and clients accomplish these goals. So when we have people come to us with the signs and symptoms of seasonal allergies, we help them find ways to take care of their skin during allergy season.
One of the easiest ways to control the symptoms of allergies is to control the allergies themselves with antihistamines that block the response the body has to the allergies. If you are not a doctor, recommend that folks talk to their doctor about their allergies to get the right medication for them. Regardless of ability to write a prescription, however, all of our members can help with skincare.
Reminding people that this time of year gentle cleaning of the skin twice a day and using hydrating products is one of the easiest ways they can help themselves. Getting facials and treatments for their skin will help as well. Remembering not to scratch and rub is important. And when the allergies become bad enough to cause wrinkles, we are all equipped to help. To learn more about the special skin issues that arise during allergy season and what we can do to help our clients, be sure to attend SCALE 2019 Music City in May. We look forward to seeing you there.