Hay fever symptoms are fairly well-known. Sneezing, watery eyes, and congestion are all allergic reactions to airborne particles, but skin irritation is one of the symptoms of hay fever that gets little attention.
Said to affect more than one in five people, hay fever is not a virus. It is, instead, a term used to refer to the cold-like symptoms that appear as a result of airborne allergies. While some sufferers experience these symptoms on an ongoing basis, for many people symptoms are seasonal, depending on their particular allergies.
Here are a few ways to determine if your rash is related to hay fever.
Can Hay Fever Cause a Rash?
While other symptoms of hay fever are traced to breathing pollens and other allergens, hay fever can often be traced to allergens coming in direct contact with the skin.
If you are working in the yard, for instance, you may be touching various pollens in plants and flowers. When added to the fact that you are stirring up these pollens by working in flowerbeds, you have a recipe for a breakout.
A rash may be mistaken for hives, which are generally caused by an allergic reaction to something that has been ingested. However, hives can occur as a result of hay fever. The first symptoms you’ll notice are itchiness and red patches on the skin. These look more like welts than bumps, with edges that are clearly defined. The surface of the skin will appear swollen, almost as if you’ve been burned.
As time goes on, the spots may increase in size, and even disappear and later reappear. Hives tend to turn white when pressed.
Atopic dermatitis is not caused by hay fever, but can be made worse by hay fever. More common in infants, atopic dermatitis can appear as an ongoing rash, but it includes a host of other symptoms.
Atopic dermatitis appears as patches of dry, bumpy skin, especially on the face, scalp, hands, and feet. Other symptoms may include oozy blisters, ear discharge or bleeding, and symptoms that appear as a result of constant scratching. The itchiness is usually described as intense.
Other Causes of Rash
If you’ve been spending quite a bit of time outdoors recently, you may assume your skin rash is related to hay fever, but there are other factors that could be to blame. Heat rashes are actually common, so if you’ve been spending time outside, heat could be the culprit. You also may have unintentionally come into contact with poison ivy or some other poisonous plant.
Numerous other factors can cause skin rashes. You may have an allergy to the laundry detergent you’re using, or you may have a cosmetic injury.
Lastly, it shouldn’t be forgotten that hay fever can cause itchiness. It is one of the main symptoms. All that scratching can cause skin irritation in itself, leading patients to believe they’re suffering a rash when really it is simply a reaction to scratching. Antihistamines can help reduce that itchy feeling, cutting down on skin irritation.
Narrowing Down the Cause
The key to finding the cause of your rash is to observe how long the rash persists. A rash that keeps coming back may be related to hay fever, rather than temporary exposure to something. Also, what time of year does the rash normally appear? If you notice you’re developing recurring rashes consistently during certain seasons, it may be related to the pollens of that season.
Allergic reactions aren’t limited to the pollens in the spring. Fall allergies are common and, in some areas, trees and certain plants grow in the winter and summer that can cause skin irritation. Ragweed and grass can produce hay fever during spring and summer, the two best-known seasons for allergy problems.
Other Non-Histamine Symptoms
In addition to a rash, patients may also experience under-eye puffiness as a reaction to hay fever. Dark circles may also begin to appear. A hay fever sufferer may feel fatigued without realizing hay fever is the culprit. Headaches can also occur.
Some suffering from hay fever may feel irritable in addition to feeling fatigued. Memory problems and slowed thinking can result from hay fever.