Coping with sensitivity during hayfever season

Flowers, cleaning products and skincare products can become problematic


Alison Cullen
@AVogelUK


10 July 2015

Sensitivity during hayfever season

One of the problems you’ll probably have noticed when hayfever has you by the nose, is that you seem to become far more sensitive to everything. Your skin is more likely to throw up rashes, your stomach may feel more sensitive, and smells such as scent or aftershave may seem stronger or just different.

One of the reasons for this is that hayfever reactions involve inflammation; you are full of inflammatory compounds such as histamine, and this causes the swelling, redness and itching you know so well. Histamine also mediates some aspects of gut function too, so it is no wonder your digestive system feels a little out of kilter when histamine is rampaging around your body.

The swelling that histamine causes throughout your nasal passages makes your respiratory tract far more sensitive to airborne irritants, included in which can be particles of scent, air-fresheners, spray deodorants and cleaning agents.

Meanwhile, your skin is ultra-sensitive because histamine makes the blood vessels dilate more easily, so that flushing, itching, and strange prickling sensations are regular companions. Inflamed skin is less able to keep out chemicals that the body would rather not have in the bloodstream. The barrier usually provided by the skin is less effective, and more likely to soak up toxins than repel them.

All of this means that your reactions to anything even vaguely challenging to the immune system, or which your body would usually shrug off, may be exaggerated. Your usual soaps, shampoos, shaving creams, make-up and sun screen products may suddenly cause your skin to flare or your nostrils to become blocked.

Some irritants are impossible to avoid, and given that you can’t put yourself in a protective bubble until pollen has ‘ceased to fly’ and that for some people the reactions are on-going (constituting allergic rhinitis more than hayfever), it’s quite important to minimise those sources of trouble that you can.

What flowers should you avoid?

Keep your home and work environment free of flowers and plants for the time being. Particularly troublesome can be lilies, chrysanthemums, sunflowers and daisies, but your body may react to other flowers too, so keep away from people receiving birthday blooms, and don’t hug any brides until they’ve discarded their bouquets.

Cleaning products to avoid

Give your cleaning cupboard an overhaul. There are so many good brands of chemical-free, gentle but effective cleaning products available, offering a wide choice of ways to keep your home clean without insulting your respiratory tract.

Start with your washing up liquid or dishwasher product, then look at your surface spray or cleanser, before moving on to your washing powder/ liquid and any air freshening products (the latter of which are often particularly laden with noxious substances).

If you work in an office, request that your desk and surrounding area are kept free of chemical cleansing sprays and surface cleaners. When driving, remove air fresheners from your car interior – even good, essential oil based products may irritate your nose and eyes at this point.

Skincare products to avoid

Soaps and gels and washes are often plentifully loaded with elements that may set off an already agitated skin or nose. Again, the wealth of products in any health store or specialist cosmetic store gives you plenty of beautifully effective yet gentle and non-irritating options.

Shampoos and conditioners that are free from harsh chemicals are available in many ranges. It’s worth talking to staff in health stores and specialist stores to get their recommendations on the best brands for ultra-sensitive moments.

If you use hair dyes then now might be a good time to consider swapping to a natural range – to lessen the amount of chemicals bombarding your scalp. Remember that the surface of the skin is more inflamed and therefore more porous when you’re awash with histamine

Check your makeup

Old make-up brushes and products should be discarded, with make-up bags and cupboards rigorously cleaned (using chemical-free cleaning products, of course!), to reduce the likelihood of irritation. Do a clean sweep and get yourself kitted out with brands that aren’t cruel to your skin or to the environment.

Check out a range of pure deodorants, to keep you smelling sweet without burdening your system with toxins. I highly recommend the Salt of the Earth Crystal Deodorant, which is 100% natural and provides long lasting and effective protection against body odour.

What are your favourite ‘clean’ products for keeping your toxic load low?

Pollinosan Hayfever Tablets

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Did you know?

What you eat can have a dramatic effect on your hayfever symptoms. While anti-inflammatory and natural anti-histamine foods can help control your symptoms, foods containing dairy and foods rich in sugar can actually make them worse.

7 simple hayfever nutrition tips

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