Spring has sprung. So much to celebrate – sunny skies, warmer weather, everything in bloom. But for some of us, all the blooming leads to seasonal allergies. According to the CDC, almost 60 million people in the U.S. deal with seasonal allergies. For those of us with allergies, Spring also means a runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes and a scratchy throat. And for many people with seasonal allergies, skin problems including itchy skin, scaly patches and even rashes and hives are a common symptom – 80% of people with allergies will experience some type of skin reaction!
Did you know that allergies are one of the most common health conditions in the U.S. and one of the top 10 leading causes of chronic illness? Allergens are the substances that trigger allergic reactions with the most common season allergens being pollen from weeds, grass and trees. Allergic reactions happen when the body releases histamine in response to an allergen. We’ve all heard of antihistamines but what exactly is a histamine?
Histamines are chemicals your immune system makes to help the body get rid of something that is bothering it - like an allergen. Part of your body’s defense system, they start the process of moving the allergens out of your body and off your skin. Sneezing, tearing up and even itching are histamines hard at work trying to kick the allergens out of your system. Our body is trying to protect us but it’s overreaction can lead to the bothersome allergy symptoms.
Histamines boost blood flow in the area of the body affected by allergens which causes inflammation. This lets other chemicals from the immune system jump into action to do repair work while the histamines dock at special places called receptors in the body. So, let’s say you inhale some pollen – histamine prompts the membranes in the nasal cavity to make more mucus which causes a runny or stuffy nose and sneezing. This can also bother your throat – good old post nasal drip – leading you to cough.
As we mentioned, people with seasonal allergies are more likely to have skin irritations. A skin allergy reaction occurs at the point where an allergen touches the skin. In the skin, histamines cause inflammation which can make the skin more sensitive. If your skin has a poor barrier function, allergens and irritants can penetrate more easily. And these reactions can alter your skin barrier function. Just one more reason why it is so important to take care of the skin microbiome/barrier, keeping it balanced and better able to protect itself!
The skin reacts to allergens in many ways including redness, hives and dry skin. Some people with eczema see their condition flare up when exposed to seasonal allergies. These conditions can be painful and itchy which may lead to scratching and damage to the skin with can cause scarring and prolonged skin sensitivity.
There are several things we can do to help calm the effects of seasonal allergies. Stay indoors when pollen counts are high and keep windows closed with the AC on. Wash sheets and pillowcases in hot water weekly and use dust mite-proof covers on mattresses. Avoid harsh ingredients on the skin and try to use fragrance-free and dye-free products. Don’t exfoliate or scratch irritated skin. And try to reduce stress. Stress actually increases histamine levels in the body!
Depending on the severity of your allergies, you may be using an antihistamine. Did you know that in addition to being a powerhouse antioxidant, Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine? Studies have shown if may help reduce upper respiratory symptoms that seasonal allergies can cause. It can help decrease inflammation, swelling and related symptoms that happen at the site of an allergic reaction. Vitamin C acts differently than antihistamine medications, reducing the amount of histamine produced rather than blocking histamine receptors.
Vitamin C and other powerful antioxidants form the base of Glotrition’s Super Beauty Elixir and Afterglo Gummiceuticals. As part of your beauty wellness routine, these products not only help protect your skin microbiome, they support your immune system which may help protect the skin from seasonal allergies. Helping you achieve healthier, younger looking skin is just a bonus!