After a long, cold winter, this time of year is highly anticipated by many. However for some, it can be a time where allergies flare up—in fact, allergies are incredibly common and affect about one in three New Zealanders at some time in their lives. So if spring has you sneezing, itchy or feeling irritated on the skin, in the throat, eyes, or nose, then you're most likely suffering from allergies.
But fear not, we’re unpacking all things allergies with La Roche Posay, so you can protect and nourish your skin as it deserves and avoid pesky reactions.
How To Know If You Have Allergy-Prone Skin
Some of the most common symptoms of allergies are sneezing; itchy, red, or watery eyes; runny nose; or your throat, ears and nose feeling scratchy. But interestingly, when it comes to skin contact allergies, symptoms won’t surface straight away and can even take years of exposure before showing on the skin.
Doctor Harriet Cheng, La Roche Posay's resident dermatologist says that the most common sign is a red, raised and itchy rash on your skin.
“This rash usually occurs in the area where you've applied the product however some areas are more sensitive and can develop rashes more readily, for example, the eyelids. If no longer tolerated, a rash will usually appear on the skin one or two days after the substance is applied. This can make it really difficult to know which product may be causing the reaction."
What Causes Allergies
Seasonal allergies are caused by airborne allergens, such as pollen, animal dander, dust mites and mold, which is why springtime can prove to be troublesome for some. In addition to this, certain foods such as nuts, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, eggs and milk can cause allergies along with insect stings from bees or wasps.
Cheng explains that when it comes to contact allergies, they are most often caused by ingredients in personal care products, “the most common substances to initiate an allergic reaction are fragrance, some preservatives and some hair dyes.
“Some natural ingredients are also known irritants which are common causes of an allergy so we can’t assume that all natural products are suitable for sensitive allergy-prone skin,” Cheng says.
How To Take Preventative Measures Against Allergies
The only way to prevent allergies is to limit exposure to chemicals or naturally occurring substances that trigger an immune response. Cheng advises to use products that are fragrance-free and suited to sensitive skin, as fragrances can be a common cause if you have allergy prone skin.
“Some preservatives, especially those included in leave-on products, have a higher chance of triggering an allergic reaction, for example, methylisothiazolinone which can be present in rinse off products such as shampoos and conditioners. A good rule of thumb is to choose formulas with minimal ingredients, usually the fewer the better,” Cheng explains.
If you suffer from eczema or dry skin, it’s important to take extra precautions as Cheng states there is some evidence that a damaged skin barrier can increase the chance of developing allergies.
“This is because chemicals can get through the skin barrier more easily triggering an immune response. To maintain a healthy skin barrier, avoid harsh cleansers and use nourishing moisturisers regularly. This is especially important at the moment with increased requirements for handwashing and sanitizing which can strip the skin of its protective moisture barrier."
This is why when it comes to sensitive, allergy-prone skin, we love La Roche Posay’s Toleraine Dermallergo range. It is so important to use the right products during an allergy heightened period, and their range of moisturisers provide intense hydration while remaining free of preservatives, fragrance, alcohol, colorant and lanolin.
What To Do If You Suffer A Reaction
The best thing you can do if you’ve developed a contact reaction is to stop using the product immediately. Cheng suggests making a note of the product or its ingredients in case allergy testing is needed and if the rash persists, make sure to see your doctor.
Keeping note of the product and its ingredients will also help to inform your future skincare purchases and ensure you don’t suffer the same skin allergies again.
How Skin Allergies Are Diagnosed
If you think you might be suffering from a skin contact allergy you’ll need to see your doctor to receive a patch test from a dermatologist. It’s a simple and noninvasive test that can easily help you to identify the cause of the reaction.
“During this test, called Repeat Insult Patch Testing, different substances are applied to the skin of your back in a organised grid pattern and left in place under tape for 2 days. The tape is then removed and the skin is observed over the next few days for any sign of reactions,” Cheng explains.
To find out more about properly caring for and protecting your skin from allergic skin reactions, head to La Roche Posay and check out their range of skincare products, perfect for sensitive skin. La Roche Posay can be purchased from Chemist Warehouse, selected Life Pharmacy, Unichem and Independent pharmacies, or at TheMarket.com.
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