Its that time of year again, May flowers are in bloom and the landscapes are gorgeous, but if you are one of the more than 50 million allergy sufferers in the US, you can’t go out and enjoy it because your eyes swell shut, your sinuses feel like they are going to burst, and everything itches! Seasonal allergies are miserable. And, to add insult to injury, they and their medications wreak havoc on your skin too! Every Spring my face swells up like it did when I was pregnant. My eyes are bloodshot, itchy, and I get dark circles under them. My cheeks are red, dry, rough, and overly sensitized. It's not fun or cute. Is this the product of the allergies themselves, or is it due to the medications I take to feel better? The answer is likely both.
Seasonal allergies themselves don’t typically result in rashes or hives, but they do frequently cause extra sensitivities in skin especially in the extremely thin skin around the eyes. In early Spring trees and plants release spores of pollen and mold that increase histamines in the body which, in turn, cause inflammation that can make skin itchy. In some cases a little skincare routine change can alleviate the itch, but for more severe cases it is wise to see an allergy specialist.
Sometimes histamines in the bloodstream will dilate small vessels making the undereye area appear purple, even if you don’t typically have dark circles. While dark circles are often a hereditary trait and difficult to treat, allergy and sinus related dark circles can be managed with a few lifestyle changes. Proper amounts of sleep and water consumption and protection from sun are the basics. Sinus irrigation with a neti pot or saline nasal spray can also help. I often incorporate some manual lymphatic drainage massage into my facials and especially when my patient is an allergy warrior. Manual Lymphatic Drainage, or MLD, is a gentle pressure massage that specifically targets the lymphatic system to help move toxins through the body. There is a lot to this type of massage, and there are lots of online tutorials, but I found this one particularly easy to follow and filled with good technique https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZ_VjEmHdLM.
There is also a lot of hype surrounding the use of Jade rollers to reduce puffiness and improve circulation and lymph drainage. Personally, I feel like Jade rollers are a gimmick. They do feel nice, and the stone is cool to the touch so it should help a bit with inflammation, so I guess they’re not entirely useless. The quickest way to see those dark circles disappear, is the use of a good eye cream. The skin around the eyes is very delicate and requires formulations that are specific to that tissue. Look for ingredients like caffeine which constricts blood vessels, Niacinamide or vitamin B3 which helps to strengthen capillary walls, hyaluronic acid to hydrate and plump, kojik acid to lighten any pigmentation that results from rubbing the eyes excessively and retinol which is a vitamin A derivative that stimulates collagen to strengthen and redensify the skin. My personal favorite is Skin Better Science Daily Treatment Cream Eye. It is one of the most effective eye products I have ever used! Ten minutes after application I look like a new woman (one who gets some sleep) and it is rich enough to soothe my dry allergy eyes!
Speaking of dry skin, you may have dry sensitized skin from allergies too. For some, this is a side effect from allergy medication, and for others it is directly linked to histamine activity. Allergy medications are notorious for causing dry skin. This is an easy fix…give that parched skin a drink! I highly recommend Skin Better Science Trio Rebalancing Moisture Treatment. Trio is a rich hydrator without all the weight that normally comes with heavy moisture. I often transition my ablative laser patients onto this product after the initial healing period because their new skin is so thirsty. If you find that your skin is not just dry, but also extra sensitive, red and rough to the touch, you are likely experiencing an allergic reaction in the skin caused by histamines. You should seek the guidance of an allergist for sure, but also choosing calming skincare products for your everyday routine will help. Products like The Calm Skin Starter Set from Eminence Organic Skin Care are a perfect fit with ingredients like chamomile and arnica. Exfoliation can be tricky when you are experiencing sensitized skin but should still be a part of your skincare routine. Products containing Lactic Acid are great in this circumstance because lactic acid is far gentler than other alpha hydroxy acids, and it aids in drawing moisture into the skin while still turning over cells. Eminence Organic Skincare Mangosteen Daily Resurfacing Concentrate is an excellent at-home exfoliating product for sensitized skin.
Allergies are here to stay, but there are many treatment options to get you outdoors in the fresh air without suffering. Talk to an allergist to help find the best fit for you, and make sure to give your skin the TLC it needs in the meantime.
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