What Spring Allergies Mean For Your Skincare
September is just around the corner, which for many marks the joyful arrival of spring. For others, it signals the beginning of many weeks of frustration and discomfort. Allergies during pollen season are extremely common in Australia, and while sufferer’s symptoms are mild, others can be debilitating.
If you suffer from springtime allergies, in addition to the classic symptoms like itchy nose, irritated eyes and congested sinuses, you may have noticed some manifestations on the skin. This is because true allergies involve a systemic response from the innate immune system, and it isn’t uncommon to notice the outcomes of this response on the skin in severe cases. Here are a few reasons why, and what you can do to combat it.
What is an allergic response?
When a substance enters the body and its host is allergic to that substance, antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE) are produced. Different IgEs are created in response to different allergens. IgEs activate mast cells, which release histamine among other molecules, causing a cascade of events that can result in redness and heat, itching, and urticaria (hives). This inflammation can not only be uncomfortable, but over a prolonged period, can cause harm to the skin.
What does this mean for my skin?
As per any inflammatory response, several steps should be taken to relieve discomfort and protect the skin from harm. Inflammation can strip the skin of moisture and hydration, cause sensitisation, impair barrier function, and stimulate pigmentation production particularly in darker skin types. For this reason, if you suffer from moderate to severe spring allergies, you might consider the following tips for preventing your allergies from causing subsequent skin damage.
Soothe - skin can become very itchy due to the presence of histamine, and by scratching, you actually trigger the release of even more histamine. Serums, facial mists and moisturisers containing cooling, calming, anti-inflammatory agents like aloe, chamomile, niacinamide, ceramides, green tea or other soothing botanicals may assist.
Hydrate, moisturise, protect - heat in the tissue means loss of hydration and trans-epidermal water loss. Use water-attracting ingredients like hyaluronic or lactic acid, glycerin etc. to attract water molecules in the skin, and lock it in with rich, barrier-like moisturisers to prevent evaporation of water through the skin’s surface. When water is lost and oil is depleted, skin can become further irritated, prolonging the cycle.
Antioxidants - one of the primary concerns of inflammation is excess free radicals, which are caused during the inflammatory cascade and also exacerbate the inflammation further in a nasty, self-perpetuating cycle. Antioxidants are used to neutralise these free radicals before they cause harm to tissue, lipids, and DNA.
Allergies can be incredibly frustrating, and cause significant discomfort to the face, eyes, nose and throat. And without the assistance of appropriate skincare, your complexion could be suffering silently too. But with the right skincare, you may find some assistance - both for your symptoms and for your skin’s long-term health.