Just as pollen can attack your sinuses and wreak havoc in your body when you suffer from hay fever, for some, the external effect on the skin is an equally challenging factor.
These effects can range from red patches, to swollen eyes, puffiness, itchiness and overall irritation, and need more than an antihistamine to be treated. Sensitive skin is even more susceptible to the effects of seasonal allergens and more reactive to histamines, which your body produces in response to an allergen (e.g. pollen).
When your skin reacts in this way, your skin’s barrier functions is compromised, meaning allergens and irritants can penetrate the skin much more easily, making your skin extra sensitive to your regular skincare.
1. Protect your skin barrier
To protect your skin barrier and help it to retain its moisture, it is advisable to use products that are free of any ingredients that could cause further irritation or reaction. Avoid ingredients such as fragrance, parabens, certain preservatives (like parabens or propylene glycol) and drying alcohol.
Ask our StayWell Pharmacy staff about La Roche-Posay’s Toleraine line in store – the perfect range for sensitive, reactive skin. If the skin on your body is affected, Sanex’s Zero% shower gels and body lotions work to support and protect your skin’s natural PH barrier.
2. Calm & hydrate
When your skin feels itchy, it is important to use products that will calm and hydrate the skin. Ask our helpful staff at StayWell Pharmacies about a product that contains hydrocortisone – for itching relief – and hyaluronic acid for hydration.
A calming serum will work wonders (look for a product that contains soothing ingredients like aloe vera, chamomile and madecassoside), as well as a super-hydrating moisturiser, or even better – a moisturising balm (ingredients known for hydration include ceramides, humectants and shea butter). These will work wonders on dry patches, especially around the nose. For on-the-go, a face mist is an effective and practical way to soothe allergy flare-ups on the skin.
Brands such as La Roche Posay, Avéne and Aveeno all specialise in effective products for sensitive skin – ask your local StayWell Pharmacy team for advice on the best product for you.
To calm puffy eyes, pop on a cool compress. The cold restricts circulation and so helps to calm the inflammation and discomfort. Keeping a bottle of lubricating eye drops in the fridge for moments like this also helps to relieve the immense discomfort of eye allergies.
The skin around the eyelids is very delicate, so when it is irritated, it is even more important to treat it with care. Avoid any harsh cleansers or make up removers. Bioderma’s Sensibio H20 is a great option for removing make up from the delicate eye area. Follow up with a soothing eye cream and your chilled eye drops and you are good to go.
As well as puffy eyes, your face can feel puffy and swollen after a day of battling your allergy symptoms. A cooling sheet mask works wonders to calm any irritation – ask your StayWell Pharmacy team about Vichy and Garnier options in store.
Cleansing your skin thoroughly in the morning and evening will get rid of any pollen particles that have landed on your face. Be sure to use a mild, gentle cleanser at this time – CeraVe and Cetaphil have some great options, along with the La Roche Posay Toleraine range as mentioned above.
Follow up with a hydrating cream or serum, at night adding another step of an overnight mask to boost hydration if needed. The skin most actively repairs itself at night, so this is the optimal time to treat it for sensitivity and irritation.
5. Be prepared
Skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and hives are likely to flare up when your allergies do, as they are connected to the immune system.
Not being equipped with the items you need to battle your allergy symptoms can cause unnecessary discomfort – for example, having to use rough toilet tissue on the sensitive, already irritated skin around your nose is not ideal. Always have a pack of tissues with you – if you have ones that contain aloe vera, even better – and pick up a nasal spray to help fight inflammation and congestion.
6. Slather that SPF
While we always advise you to wear sunscreen daily to protect yourself from harmful UV rays, sun damage and premature aging, the sun can also exacerbate skin allergy symptoms on unprotected skin.
Equally, while your skin is irritated, dry and exposed, the sun can make these symptoms even worse, especially if this sensitive skin gets burned. Lash on that sunscreen!
7. Give your lips some love
Dry, chapped lips often come as part and parcel of seasonal allergies, as a blocked nose tends to mean you are breathing through your mouth more than usual. For this – a good, heavy-duty lip balm is critical, or even better – a lip mask.
Pop into your local StayWell Pharmacy and the team will be able to help you find just what you’re looking for.
Ease your mind – check out our article on the symptoms of hay fever compared to those of COVID and the common cold.
Information sourced from Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Klair's Cosmetics, Avail Dermatology, The Skincare Edit.