Skin Irritation And How It Relates To Seasonal Allergies
Skin Irritation Overview
Seasonal allergies or allergic rhinitis cause common symptoms in the eyes, nose, or respiratory irritation, but when an outer element comes in contact with the body, and your body identifies it as harmful, it may show some skin irritation too. These skin irritation or rashes can also occur when the skin comes in contact with various pollens of different plants, trees, or weeds in the spring, summer, or fall season, hence causing seasonal allergies.
Skin irritation may not be a very common symptom for people who suffer from seasonal allergies but can be an annoyance from those who do. The usual phenomenon of allergy is when pollens or any outdoor allergen is inhaled, and the body starts producing histamines and other chemical substances that start showing symptoms. But skin irritation occurs when the pollens land on the skin, and it starts reacting against it. This reaction may start as a customary itch that may develop into a rash or contact dermatitis.
While not as common, in some severe skin conditions, people may develop hives or bumps on their skin from seasonal allergies, which start to turn white when pressed. Moreover, some people may suffer from eczema, which is often referred to as atopic triad by the doctors.
Skin irritation due to seasonal allergies have various reasons depending on the allergen you are sensitive to. Some people may be irritant to spring allergen, while some may cause reactions to allergens produced in the fall. Let us see in detail:
Spring Allergies and Skin Irritation
At the start of February or late winters, when many of the trees and plants start to pollinate, they begin to create tiny airborne allergens like pollen and mold. People who are allergic to these substances start producing large amounts of histamines in their blood that other than triggering nasal irritation or cause skin irritation and inflammation that can get worse to allergy-related skin diseases. However, these skin irritations are not contagious.
Ragweed pollen: The most common cause of skin irritation in the spring season is the ragweed pollen that stays till the end of the fall season till mid-October. Almost 75% of people who suffer from spring allergies are allergic to ragweed pollen.
Fall Allergies and Skin Irritation
Your skin can also be provoking as the leaves and temperature start to fall. Along with ragweed pollen, people may get skin irritation in fall due to other allergens like,
Mold and Mildew: These are the second main cause of fall allergies and be triggered indoor or outdoors. They produce spores in the air, same like pollens and spread by the wind. They grow tremendously on damp, fallen leaves and compost piles. They may also be produced in indoor areas that are moist and warm like basements and kitchens. Unlike pollens, mold and mildew may not get slayed by the first frost, but they get into a dormant phase during the winter months.
Other than pollens and spores, some additional irritants that may cause seasonal skin irritation would be insects and bugs that reproduce rapidly during the spring and summer months. Pesticides and chemicals used in the summer and spring seasons to get rid of pests can even cause skin rash to people with sensitive skin. Moreover, dust, dander, or feathers, along with some seasonal foods, can also cause skin reactions.
Symptoms of Skin Irritation or Contact Dermatitis
The symptoms of contact dermatitis occur in the areas of the body that get exposed to the substance that may cause a reaction. The rash may develop within minutes to hours of the exposure and last for two to four weeks.
Various signs and symptoms include:
- A reddish rash
- Dry, scaly skin
- Sores and bumps with crusts
- Inflammation, burning, and sensitivity.
Managing Skin Irritation due to Seasonal Allergies
Skin irritations can become infectious if repeatedly scratched, causing it to become watery and oozing. This may cause bacteria and fungi production causing infections. You can prevent the condition to worsen by following some common averting measures:
- Avoid exposure to allergens: try to recognize and avoid the irritants that may cause skin reactions.
- Wash your hands/body parts frequently: while complete evasion of allergens would not be possible, you should wash your hands and exposed body parts thoroughly to prevent any reaction.
- Wear gloves or protective coverings: gloves, face masks, or various other covering items can protect you from irritating substances to reach your skin.
- Apply petroleum jelly or other barrier creams: various over the counter protective creams are available that create a barrier over your skin and prevent the allergens from producing any skin reactions.
If prevention and natural remedies won’t help you get rid of your skin irritations, doctors may prescribe your some treatment options that include:
- Corticosteroid ointments and creams: These creams or ointments are topically applied and may alleviate contact dermatitis rash. These topical steroids may be applied one or two times a day for two to four weeks.
- Oral Corticosteroid: Depending on the severity and skin rash, an oral corticosteroid may be prescribed in some cases.
- Antihistamines: These treatments help to limits the production of histamines that show the irritation symptoms due to an outdoor allergen.
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics may be prescribed to fight for any ongoing bacterial infection on the rash or blisters.
If you or any of your family members experience symptoms of skin irritation due to seasonal allergies, the best way recommended is to avoid your skin exposure to allergens. Wear full-sleeved dresses and try to cover your body parts to avoid contact as much as possible, especially during pollen seasons. Remember that seasonal allergies may or may not seem to show all symptoms together, so it is always advised to know your cause of irritation and get treated accordingly.
If you still get a reaction, do not scratch the skin. Splash cold water to ease the burning sensation and apply over the counter skin ointment or creams as soon as possible to avoid the aggravation of the symptoms or any potential infection.
Written by: Madiha Ather Hashmi (November 25, 2020)
- Windsor Dermatology (2020). “Is Itchy Skin a Sign of Seasonal Allergies?”. Windsor Dermatology.
- WebMD Medical Reference (2020). “Allergies and Eczema: What’s the Link?”. WebMD.
- ACAII (2014). “Skin Allergy”. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
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Last Updated on July 5, 2023