According to Allergy UK, 26 per cent of adults in the UK suffer from hay fever, with symptoms such as watery eyes, a puffy face and red nose not only negatively affecting your mood and lifestyle, but also your skin.
To help those struggling with sore and sensitive skin, we spoke to the experts to discover how to avoid and treat your symptoms, especially around your eyes and nose, when coping with reactions to high pollen count and other allergies.
Do more than take anti-histamines
“Although antihistamines can reduce the sensation of itch, topical treatments are usually needed also,” reveals the consultant dermatologist Dr Justine Hextall. “The more the skin is scratched, the itchier the skin becomes as scratching tends to release more histamine. It’s therefore important to adapt your skincare regime too, to calm the skin and reduce ongoing irritation and itching.”
Check your skincare labels
Try not to use any skincare products that contain fragrance, preservatives, parabens, colourants, alcohol or lanolin, as these ingredients can make your skin react and become more sensitive. It might seem like a rather long list, but nowadays a lot of sensitive-skincare brands will announce their ‘free-from’ claims on their bottles. If not, check the ingredients list and Google any terms you don’t understand to make sure your current regime isn’t causing your skin more problems.
Focus on hydrating your skin
“Choose hydrating products to help any dry skin caused by irritation, especially around the nose area,” suggests the make-up artist Anchal Seda. When fighting allergies, try Avène’s Hydrance Hydrating Emulsion, which was specifically designed for sensitive skin, or Aveeno’s Dermexa Daily Emollient Cream, as recommended by the Johnson & Johnson skincare expert Rebecca Bennett.
In general, look for products that contain soothing ingredients like aloe vera, chamomile and madecassoside, as well as those specifically known for hydration such as ceramides, humectants and shea butter.
Repair your skin barrier
“Dry, sensitive skin often has a ‘leaky’ barrier that cannot hold on to moisture nor offer full protection against bacteria and potential allergens,” explains Bennett. “Looking after the skin barrier is very important as irritated skin is more vulnerable to irritation and allergy.”
“To keep the skin barrier as healthy as possible, I strongly recommend using the most gentle cleansers, such as CeraVe’s Hydrating Cleanser, or Cetaphil’s Gentle Cleanser. Another option is La Roche-Posay’s Toleriane Dermo-Cleanser, which is part of the first facial-skincare regime to be awarded the Seal of Approval by Allergy UK,” says Hextall. “All of the above will clean the skin without disrupting the skin barrier and causing further water loss.”
Look after your eyes
“It is important to look after the delicate skin of the eyelids and to avoid harsh cleansers and make-up removers as skin is extra sensitive,” says Hextall. We’d recommend Bioderma’s Sensibio H20 for removing your eye make-up, and a light cream, like Darphin’s Hydraskin Eye Refresh to soothe the sensitive skin around your eyes. Eye drops or mists can stop additional dryness too, so try Optrex’s Itchy Eye Drops, if you are struggling.
Your face can feel swollen after a day of suffering with hay-fever symptoms, so Seda suggests using a cooling sheet mask to calm any irritations, such as the Yes to Cucumbers Mask. A jade roller or other facial massage tool, such as Yu Ling’s Roller can also be used to eliminate puffiness by encouraging better circulation – just ensure not to apply too much pressure, especially if you are already struggling with some inflammation.
Not being equipped can cause unnecessary discomfort around your nose as toilet tissue can be rough on skin that’s been made sensitive by overblowing. Always pack tissues with you, preferably ones that contain alleviating aloe vera, to stop your nose getting especially sore, and try using a spray, like Benadryl’s Benacort Nasal Spray to help fight inflammation and congestion.
Invest in an air purifier
You can also avoid allergens following you into your home by changing your clothes at the end of the day and by investing in an air purifier, for example Dyson’s Pure Cool, which captures and reports on the pollutants and allergens it takes from the air. It is particularly helpful for when your allergies and hay fever are so bad they are affecting your sleep.
From: Harper’s BAZAAR UK