For hay fever sufferers, the excitement of spring is often tinged with worry, because as each new flower blooms, those dreaded symptoms – sneezes, a runny nose and itchy eyes – start to take over.
And don’t get us started on summer. This weekend, particularly Sunday, the pollen count across England and Wales is set to be high, according to the Met Office, with grass pollen wreaking havoc. People living in cities are at risk of even worse symptoms thanks to the combined effect of high air pollution and pollen.
While it’s often regarded as a trivial problem, studies have shown that hay fever severely affects quality of life: it disturbs sleep, causes people to miss work, and can impair concentration and the ability to carry out tasks.
There’s no escaping pollen, but there are ways to limit symptoms this hay fever season. Here, experts share their tips.
1. Shower Every Night Before Bed.
As the weather warms, Natalie Masters, Boots’ hay fever and summer allergies expert, recommends showering every night before bed “to help wash any stray pollen from your hair and skin, which could keep you up sneezing in the night”.
It’s worth noting you don’t have to shampoo your hair each time – giving it a rinse should be enough to remove unwanted pollen.
2. Invest In Vaseline.
When you wake up in the morning and get dressed and ready for work, Masters advises smearing a small amount of petroleum jelly or a nasal barrier balm under your nose, as it can help to trap some of the pollen.
3. Don’t Forget Your Sunnies.
Wherever you go, make sure you keep your sunglasses on hand as they can help prevent pollen from getting in your eyes when you’re out and about. Wraparound styles are the most effective.
4. Invest In Waterproof Makeup.
Mascara-wearers or lovers of eyeliner might want to ditch the stuff completely or buy a waterproof version to avoid panda eyes. We have it on good authority that Mac’s liquid liner is sneeze-resistant.
5. Keep Windows Closed.
At home, make sure you keep your windows closed in the morning and evening when pollen counts are highest. Tree pollen tends to peak in the early afternoon, while grass tends to be worse in the morning before 11am and again in the late afternoon and early evening from about 4.30pm.
Having the windows open later in the day could also be scuppering your chances of a good night’s sleep. Masters explains: “Towards the end of the day, the temperature drops causing the pollen that has risen in the atmosphere during the day to fall back to the ground. This explains why hay fever sufferers may experience a worsening of symptoms at night which can impact how they feel the next day.”
6. Dry Your Washing Indoors.
If you’ve done a load of washing, dry it inside to prevent pollen sticking and infiltrating everything from your towels and bedding... to your underwear.
7. Change Clothes When You Get Home.
Most people do this anyway (comfy trousers FTW) but hay fever sufferers should definitely strip off their clothes when they get home so as not to traipse pollen around the house.
8. Shake Your Jacket.
Obviously washing your jackets every day isn’t practical. Instead, try shaking your jacket before and after use to remove some of the pollen. Just remember to do it outside.
9. Keep Calm And Clean.
Masters advises regularly vacuuming your floors and dusting your house with a damp cloth to help keep your home a pollen-free zone.
10. Find A Good Antihistamine.
Antihistamines are the most common treatment for hay fever, according to Push Doctor. Use them when you experience symptoms or, if you know which type of pollen you’re allergic to, you can take them during your hay fever season to stop symptoms before they happen.
It’s important to know which antihistamines make you drowsy, so speak to your doctor or pharmacist and make sure you’re getting an effective medicine that won’t disrupt your day. Master adds that hay fever eye drops or a steroid nasal spray could all be helpful.
11. Limit Booze And Cigs.
“Whilst it might be tempting to enjoy a drink on a warm, summer evening, alcohol can worsen the symptoms of hay fever,” says Masters. “So maybe try to avoid on the days when your symptoms feel particularly bad.”
Likewise, smokers should try to cut down too, as cigarette smoke will irritate the lining of your airways and make allergies worse.