I have experienced hay fever and other seasonal allergies my entire life. Until recently, I would treat it with drinking excessive amounts of water and a box of tissues and sometimes eye drops. For the last 3 years my allergies have been so bad that I have had to begrudgingly use Claritin for relief. This past week I have been getting over my first sinus infection – sinusitis – where I had to get on antibiotics. I also started using a neti pot and nasal spray.
I have read that many people with eczema also have hay fever and seasonal allergies. It seems like over and over again there is a strong correlation between eczema and allergies is histamines. My post reviewing the book Living with Itch: A Patient’s Guide also mentions this relationship. I love this thorough explanation:
The best way to understand how allergy drugs work is to first look at the label on your medicine. The word “antihistamine” will appear as part of the drug’s name. This means the medicine has the ability to stop histamine (anti-histamine). But what is histamine? Where does it come from? And why does your medicine need to stop it?
Histamine is an inflammatory chemical that the body releases in the case of an allergic reaction. The release of histamine causes the dilation of capillaries, the contraction of smooth muscles (like the ones in your stomach and bladder), and the stimulation of gastric secretion. What gives the body the trigger to release such a chemical? The answer is the immune system.
The immune system protects your body against invading agents (like bacteria and viruses). In the case of allergies, your body reacts to a false alarm because airborne substances or other types of allergens that are usually not harmful. The immune system of the allergic person mistakenly considers allergens to be an invading agent, and tries to mobilize and attack. This is why those with allergies take medicine, to stop the release of histamine.
I read this fascinating blog – The Science Behind Allergies – where it discusses how scientific data exists that identifies how climate change has caused Spring to begin earlier, while also increasing tree and ragweed growth. During the last couple years, my seasonal allergies have not just been seasonal, but have continued all year long. Reducing nickel from my diet has dramatically improved my eczema. However, my eczema also flares up – especially on my hands and legs – when my seasonal allergies intensify. It’s important for me to try to understand all of the causes of my dry itchy skin, including when I eat foods high in nickel, when I am stressed out and when I have hay fever.