5 Hay fever skincare mistakes and how to fix them

5 Hay fever skincare mistakes and how to fix them

BY Rupesh Shah

22nd Apr 2024 Wellbeing

3 min read

With hay fever season upon us, these are some common hay fever skincare mistakes you might be making and how you can fix them
Spring has sprung and flowers are blooming—but that signals the start of hay fever season. Itchy eyes and sneezes are common symptoms, but did you know hay fever can affect your skin, too?
According to Google trend data, searches for “hay fever skin” have risen by 1300% in the last month alone, and with a pollen bomb set to hit the UK, aesthetic practitioner and founder of London Lip Clinic Rupesh Shah reveals the biggest skincare mistakes you’re making during hay fever season, and how to fix them.

How does hay fever affect my skin? 

Hay fever occurs when your immune system overreacts to the allergen, pollen. It releases histamine, which is a chemical that triggers inflammation, and causes itchy eyes, sneezing and a runny nose.
But this inflammation isn’t just confined to your nose and eyes, it can also cause problems with the delicate skin on your face, like irritation, dryness, and can even contribute to dark circles.

Hay fever skincare mistakes 

1. Rubbing your eyes

The skin around your eyes is very thin, and tends to be more delicate than anywhere else on your face. Rubbing your eyes when hay fever makes them itchy puts pressure on the tiny blood vessels under the surface of the skin, which can cause them to burst. These broken blood vessels show through the skin, giving the appearance of dark circles.
"Resist the urge to rub your eyes—soothe them with hydrating eye drops that can flush out pollen"
Rubbing your eyes also makes the undereye skin more susceptible to premature wrinkles. The rubbing can stretch the delicate skin, breaking down the elastin and collagen that keeps the skin firm and youthful. Over time, this can lead to fine lines and wrinkles.
How to fix
It’s so tempting to rub your eyes when they’re itchy, but try to resist the urge! Soothe your eyes with hydrating eye drops that can flush out pollen, and use a gentle cleanser on a cotton pad to make sure that there’s no pollen particles on your eyelashes.  Use a cold compress to reduce inflammation and puffiness around the eyes, like a cooling gel eye mask or ice globes.

2. Using harsh cleansers and exfoliants 

Woman applying skincare products to her face
When pollen triggers histamine, it disrupts your skin barrier, making it more vulnerable to dehydrating, which leads to dryness, irritation and flakiness. This irritation causes your skin to become more sensitive to your usual skincare products, and the inflammation triggers itch receptors in your skin, making you want to scratch. Harsh cleansers and exfoliants can strip away your skin’s natural oils, leaving it feeling dry and tight, and weaken your skin barrier further.
How to fix
Opt for gentle, fragrance-free products that can help soothe irritation, and restore your skin barrier, allowing it to heal and recover. Simplify your routine, and focus on gentle cleansing and hydration.

3. Skipping moisturiser 

When hay fever wreaks havoc on your skin, you might be concerned that using a heavy moisturiser can make the irritation and sensitivity worse.
"Skipping the moisturiser will only dry out your skin, making the irritation and itchiness worse"
However, skipping the moisturiser will only dry out your skin, making the irritation and itchiness worse.
How to fix
Try a more light-weight formula of moisturiser, rather than skipping it. Look for humectant ingredients like hyaluronic acid, that draw in moisture from the air and lock it into your skin, and ceramides, which are fats that naturally occur in your skin and help strengthen the skin barrier, protecting it from irritants and allergens.

4. Not drinking enough water 

Woman drinking water from bottle while playing golf in the sunshine
Studies have shown that dehydration can cause your body to produce higher levels of histamine, so as well as keeping your skin hydrated on the outside, you need to remain hydrated on the inside. Dehydration can also lead to itchy skin, darker undereye circles, and more noticeable fine lines.
How to fix
Dehydration weakens the skin barrier, which can allow allergens and irritants to penetrate more easily—meaning pollen can trigger further irritation and inflammation, worsening hay fever symptoms on your skin—so make sure you drink plenty of water to strengthen that barrier. Dry air can also make hay fever symptoms worse, and dry out your skin further, so consider using a humidifier to add moisture to the air, and soothe irritated skin.

5. Not reducing allergens at home 

After a day outside, surrounded by pollen, you would hope that your home would be a safe space, free from allergens. But pollen can cling to your clothes, hair and skin, and be easily transferred to surfaces like your bedding, so even if you keep all the windows closed, it can still enter your home and cause issues with your skin.
How to fix
Consider investing in an air purifier that can trap airborne allergens and reduce your exposure to them. When the pollen count is particularly high, have a shower and change your clothes as soon as you get home to minimise how much pollen you bring into your home.
"Pollen can cling to your clothes, hair and skin, and be easily transferred to surfaces like your bedding"
You could also upgrade your bedding—silk pillowcases are naturally hypoallergenic, with tightly woven fibres that stop pollen being trapped in the fabric as easily cotton; this limits your exposure to allergens while you sleep, and can reduce their impact on your skin.
Banner: Harsh cleansers and exfoliators should be avoided if you suffer from hay fever. Credit: Koolshooters
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