When people think of allergies due to seasonal changes, they tend to think of telltale symptoms like sneezing or watery eyes. But in reality, your skin can become just as affected by weather patterns—and sometimes, it may need a little TLC to get through the change in seasons and cope with seasonal skin allergies.
Take autumn, for example. The season brings crisp, cooler air and beautiful foliage, but both of those things can invite allergens and irritants that affect your skin. Ragweed pollen, a common cause of itchy skin, can be plentiful in this season. And as leaves fall, mold spores tend to accumulate in piles of foliage and further aggravate skin allergies, especially if you stir them up doing yard work.
What's worse, those factors are all in addition to how dry, cooler weather can remove moisture from the skin and leave it more prone to irritation and damage. Still, that doesn't mean you have to abstain from all the outdoor fun this season brings. With a little prep and proper skin care—as well as understanding your skin's unique needs—you can help your skin ride out climate changes year-round.
Understanding Your Skin's Reaction to Allergens
Allergies happen when your immune system attempts to fight an outside threat that it thinks is highly dangerous, but isn't really. Those threats may include food, bee stings, pet dander, pollen, or other allergens—and the symptoms you get as a result (such as wheezing, sneezing, or itchy skin) are your body's way of responding to the threat.
Even though allergens surround us every day, not everyone falls victim to them. And just as not everyone experiences nasal symptoms during allergy season, not everyone experiences skin damage as a result of allergens either. Some people get hives, others get rashes, and some lucky individuals never experience any skin reactions at all.
The reasons behind this are mostly biological: many people inherit allergies from their parents or get them as a result of other health conditions. For example, hay fever—the allergic reaction to pollen, pet dander, and other tiny particles you breathe in—is often hereditary. Those with eczema or asthma are more prone to hay fever, too. Others may not develop an allergic response until moving to a new region with different or more extreme allergens.
So, how do you know if you have seasonal nasal or skin allergies? If you tend to get sick or have rashes, itchy skin, or hives at certain times of the year, that's a good clue. Still, some people live with allergies for years without knowing it, and that can make for some uncomfortable times of the year.
If you think you may have allergies, check with an allergist. They can conduct a series of screenings, such as skin prick tests, that can help you identify the specific allergens that cause an immune response.
How to Treat Seasonal Skin Allergies
Treatment plans for skin allergies can vary widely from person to person, and they may depend on your specific allergen as well as the recommendation of your allergist and Dermatologist.
If you're a regular allergy sufferer, you may be familiar with "allergy pills," or antihistamines. These medications, like Benadryl and Allegra, work by blocking histamines, the natural substance your body releases in an allergic reaction. Although they're typically known for relieving cold-like symptoms, they can also stymie skin problems like rashes or hives. You can also check with your allergist or Dermatologist for other treatment options, like corticosteroid creams that can help minimize skin symptoms.
Other treatment options may include adjusting your skin care regimen during certain seasons when you know you might be more reactive to the outside elements. Although everyone needs a regular three-part routine involving a cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen, some people may need even more moisture support in the cooler months of skin-drying weather. Look for extra-nourishing skin moisturizers like EltaMD's long-lasting moisturizer, or reapply a product of your choice more frequently during the day.
And finally, if your skin is especially dry or cracked, it may need some added support through amino acids. Skin products with these substances can help restore skin barrier damage caused by cold weather and other irritants.
Above all, know that you don't have to simply live with seasonal skin allergies. Get to know your body's reaction as the seasons change and adjust your daily habits and routines to give your skin what it needs to thrive. That way, you can get outside and enjoy each season for all it's worth.