Why Allergies Harm Your Complexion, and What to Do About It
Spring always seems to inspire hope. It’s a season of new beginnings, new birth, and the welcoming of warm weather. But for some, spring brings on an expected dread-allergies. Millions of children and adults suffer from allergies yearly and while common, they can be pretty insufferable. They’re uncomfortable, persistent, and many people often resign themselves to reducing their favorite outdoor activities just for some relief.
Not only are they a nuisance for breathing, but they also can have quite an impact on our skin’s appearance and function.
What’s happening in your body when seasonal allergies hit
The dreaded histamine response
Our bodies are amazing systems that have the ability to detect the slightest of changes. Unfortunately, sometimes our immune system works in overdrive and begins to flag substances as dangerous even when they’re not. Many people can smell a flower, pat a dog, or clean their house without exploding into sneezing fits and runny noses. However, those suffering from allergies have systems that recognize harmless substances as toxic.
Allergies are your body’s way of trying to ward off irritants, which then prompts an inflammatory response. When your skin comes in contact with an allergen the body is primed to release histamine, a natural immune response that helps fight against “invaders.” Histamines’ main job is to expel whatever intruder threatens your system.
This expulsion can look like sneezing or runny noses, itching, or watering eyes. It’s a very leaky process to try to get the allergen out. They are the cause of the symptoms that you relate to when you think of allergies in general.
Histamines boost blood flow to the area that is triggered and is a main cause of skin inflammation with allergies. It can be localized or diffused depending on the type of allergen and reaction. If you’re a frequent seasonal allergy sufferer, this can translate into chronically puffy and red skin that can be painful or uncomfortable or just something you’d rather not have.
Common Skin Issues with Allergies
When your body triggers a histamine response, your skin appearance and comfort can be compromised. The most common skin symptoms with allergies are:
-Dryness and Flaking
-Redness and Inflammation
-Allergy Shiners (puffy eyes with dark circles)
-Dull, Yellow Skin
-Hay Fever Rash
-Changing Skin Texture- bumps and flakes
So what can you do?
The best first step is prevention, then relief. If you know what allergens trigger you, try to avoid those by reducing exposure, using allergy free cleaning products, and using a daily over the counter allergy medication.
And even with prevention, most people will still experience some allergy flare-ups that impact their skin.
Aside from interfering with your skin, they also interfere with your sleep and increase fatigue. These disturbances could cause further skin irritation due to disrupted sleep patterns that inhibit your skin’s nightly repairing.
If your skin is starting to act out, minimize the number of products you’re using and opt for gentle, non-fragranced items, as fragrance, preservatives, and parabens are some of the most common triggers for allergy sufferers.
Make sure to wear skin sensitive sunscreen as it can help protect the already compromised skin from further damage and irritation.
Over-the-counter allergy medications and antihistamines can help quell inflammation and reduce allergy symptoms while topical steroid creams like hydrocortisone can be used on rashes and eczema. Depending on how severe your symptoms are, prescription oral or topical allergy medications can be prescribed.
Either way, you and your skin don’t have to be abused by allergies and taking preventative steps can lessen your chances for skin irritation.