Holiday Tips For Allergy Sufferers

Holiday Tips For Allergy Sufferers
Dr. Ben Close

It is hard to believe that holiday season is upon us, especially after the hottest summer on record!  Here are a few suggestions for allergy sufferers during holiday times.  This time of the year can present challenges, but adherence to a few simple tips can help this time to be more enjoyable. For patients with asthma, other respiratory problems, as well as nasal allergies, the following are some important points:
• Avoid a live Christmas tree.  Strong fumes and odors emitted from these as well exposure to mold can trigger asthma and allergic rhinitis (“nasal allergies”).
• Avoid exposure to scented candles, potpourri, etc.  Although it is not a direct “allergy”, exposures to these are significant triggers for respiratory problems. 
• More attention should be given to indoor allergens such as house dust mites and pets since there is more indoor exposure during this time.  Some simple suggestions for dust mite exposure would be encasing mattress, box spring and pillows with allergy proof encasing, using hot water to wash bedding (over 130 degrees) and drying bedding on the hot cycle, turning off ceiling fans, and removing dust collecting items in the bedroom.  If possible, carpet should be removed from these environments as well. 
• Gas and space heat can be very irritating to airways.
• Upper respiratory tract infections can be significant triggers especially with asthma.  Careful hand washing and good hygiene measures can help in preventing the spread of these problems. 

For patient who suffer with food allergy, the following are some important tips:
• Peanuts and other nuts are frequent causes of severe allergic reactions in patient.  Many holidays goodies may have these which may not be obvious, so patients and parents should be diligent in examining these.
• Make sure treatments for allergic reactions such as EpiPens and Benadryl are updated and available.  This is also a good time to review their use.

For patient with eczema, the following are some important tips:
• Skin can usually dry out this time of year, so emollient therapy using unscented  and bland creams (Eucerin and Lubriderm), Vaseline, Aquaphor gel, along with other therapies recommended by doctors should be adhered to. 

We hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a joyful holiday season!