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Summer brings sunny skies, blooming flowers, chirping birds, vacation time — and allergy season. And for some of us, the sniffling and sneezing are accompanied by skin allergy symptoms ranging from rashes to redness and puffiness. But even though summer allergies are definitely not fun, they can be manageable.
All you need is a deep dive into why your skin seems to enter panic mode as the weather warms up.
Summer allergies can be triggered by a number of environmental factors that are more prevalent in warmer weather — think pollen, mold, dust mites, plants like poison ivy or sumac, and insect stings and bites.
For example, trees, grasses and weeds usually start producing pollen at the beginning of summer. When this happens, these microscopic particles become airborne, making it a vulnerable time for those with pollen allergies.
Similarly, both dust mites and mold love warm, humid temperatures, which makes them thrive through summer. Then there's the large insect population that comes alive in the summer — as do plants like poison ivy. The allergic effects of these irritants can range from a mild rash to severe swelling and itching.
These summer allergens cause skin reactions in two major ways. The first is allergic contact dermatitis, which happens when your skin flares up after direct contact with an allergen. This is a common reaction to plants, insect bites and mold.
The second happens when you breathe in an allergen — like pollen or dust — and set off an internal chain reaction. If you are allergic to these particles, your immune system will kick into high gear to protect the body, stimulating the release of histamines into the bloodstream. These histamines consequently cause inflammation.
Cue rashes, itching, sensitivity, redness, puffiness, scaly patches or bumps.
Though allergies can affect your skin, it doesn't mean you're doomed to suffer until fall. You can take simple steps to alleviate the discomfort caused and treat the reaction on your skin, starting with washing the affected areas with a mild soap. Not only will this minimize contact dermatitis by reducing the severity of exposure, but it can also minimize the spread to other areas of the body.
Next, it's vital to soothe irritated, inflamed skin with a calming, hydrating moisturizer. The Neutrogena® Hydro Boost Water Cream contains a hefty dose of both glycerin and hyaluronic acid to lock in moisture and relieve the dryness, itchiness, redness and scaliness associated with allergic flare-ups.
Dealing with puffiness and redness? Inflammation-reducing ingredients like aloe vera or oat extracts can calm the inflammation and discomfort.
If you're experiencing skin flare ups from allergies, temporarily stop the use of ingredients like essential oils, fragrances, retinol, alpha and beta hydroxy acids, and gritty scrubs that can further irritate your skin. Instead, opt-in on a gentle yet effective body lotion such as the Neutrogena® Hydro Boost Body Gel Cream — it's hydrating and fragrance-free, which makes it perfect for compromised skin. Stick to this routine until your skin calms down.
If your allergy reactions are acute, you may need to ask your pharmacist for an over-the-counter antihistamine or visit a dermatologist, who may prescribe corticosteroids.
Once you know what allergens affect your skin, prevention is key to staying comfortable all summer long. Taking these steps may help to reduce the frequency of your seasonal flare-ups or even allow you to avoid them altogether:
To avoid insect bites, use a repellent and wear long pants and full sleeves for added protection.