Wednesday, 8th May, 2019

Don’t let hay fever give you cabin fever this summer

Summer’s on the way, and this time of year brings an array of environmental changes that will brighten most people’s days: flowers are blooming, the smell of cut grass is floating through the air, and a cool, light breeze is blowing through the streets.

But for the UK’s 13 million people with allergic rhinitis - AKA hay fever - all of these changes spell one thing: hay fever triggers.

There’s no need to fret about the fever, though, and it’s possible to enjoy the great British summertime without being trapped indoors under lock and key.

To help you stop yourself from scratching your eyes out or blowing a hole in one of your nostrils from incessant sneezing, we’ve listed eight top tips that will help you combat hay fever symptoms this summer.

1) Wear sunglasses

Whether it’s a pricey pair of Cartier shades or a set of Primark’s finest sunnies, be sure to choose sunglasses that wrap around the sides of your eyes and sit as close to your face as possible.

Aside from having an in-built ability to instantly make the wearer look more stylish, wraparound sunglasses will create an effective barrier between your eyes and the pollen circulating in the air - reducing any irritation or itchiness in your eyes. 

2) Spread some Vaseline around your nostrils


Though the idea of sticking your finger into a jar of Vaseline and smearing it under your nostrils may not sound particularly enticing, doing so will seriously ease your hay fever symptoms.  

Spreading petroleum jelly around the nostrils and just inside the edges of your nose will absorb the pollen that would normally enter your body through your airways, stopping that deceptively sweet-smelling pollen in its tracks. You’ll have a thankful nose when the summer wind blows.

3) Cut down on alcohol

That beer you’ve been promising yourself as soon as you get out of work… you might want to swap it for an iced tea or a virgin cocktail.

Alcoholic drinks like beer, wine, and spirits contain histamine - the chemical that is responsible for setting off the allergy symptoms associated with hay fever.

As much as you may begrudge not being able to have that final bottle at the summer BBQ, your eyes and nasal passages will thank you for it.

4) Close your windows late at night and early in the morning

There’s nothing like a solid sheet of glass to stop pollen from attacking your nasal passages, is there?

While your medication will do a great job of protecting you from symptom flare-ups, you can further reduce your chances of suffering with severe allergy symptoms by closing your windows late in the evening and early in the morning, when pollen is often at its highest.

The symptoms of allergic rhinitis can cause restless nights, so keeping your windows shut will help you hit the hay and feel more refreshed the next day.

Yes, it’s nice to wake up to a natural breeze blowing softly against your cheek, but your AC unit will do just as good a job without wafting any irritating pollen all up in your face.

5) Stock up on ice cubes

Whether it’s a matter of making your own set of cool cubes or buying them from the supermarket ready-made, make sure you have a good supply of ice cubes in your freezer for those days when you just can’t resist itching your eyes.

Not only will the cold from the ice cubes help reduce any swelling around your eyes, but it will feel like a cool-handed God has personally selected you to receive his healing grace (believe me, it’ll feel good).

Just remember to wrap your ice cubes in a towel or a tissue before setting them against your eyelids; you really don’t want to do more damage to your eyes than good!

 6) Change your clothes when you get home

Pollen has a habit of clinging to your clothes when you’re outside, so if your hay fever begins to flare up after you’ve returned home, change into something else straight away.

It’s also an idea to wash your clothes soon after you change, as this will help keep them pollen-free. Make sure you dry them inside the house, too - you don’t want your lovely clean clothes to get covered in a gust of pollen!

If you don’t have the space inside to do this, try not to hang out your clothes early in the morning or in the evening, as this is when pollen levels are at their highest. 

7) Wash your hands and face regularly

Not only will washing your face and hands regularly keep you feeling refreshed throughout the day, but it will also help to wash away any pollen that has collected on these parts of your body.

When you take a sneaky itch of your eyes with the side of your hand, the last thing you want to do is rub even more pollen into your eyes, so washing your hands and face regularly is a good way of reducing your interaction with pollen.

While you might not be able to resist engaging with the vicious cycle of itch, rub, regret, repeat, you should be able to reduce the effects of your guilty scratches by washing off any stray pollen from your hands and face.

8) Find a good treatment

Although it’s great to make adjustments to your daily habits to try and keep the pollen at bay, you might still find your condition still hasn’t improved. If your symptoms continue to flare up, taking medication is therefore the best treatment for hay fever.

Many hay fever sufferers start off with a suitable antihistamine tablet, taken once a day. For most people, it’s best to get the non-drowsy version.

If you’re having persistent trouble with a blocked nose, it might be a good idea to get a steroid nasal spray for hay fever. These simple over-the-counter sprays actually work against a range of symptoms, including itchy eyes, sore throat, and grogginess.

There are several different types of nasal spray, so ask your GP or pharmacist which is the best for you. Eye drops are also an option if itchy eyes are a common symptom.

Further advice

For more top tips on how to combat your hay fever symptoms, visit your local community pharmacy and speak to your pharmacist. Your pharmacist will be happy to help you and will offer free advice on how to manage your condition - using tips that can be tailored to suit your individual needs.

The official web pages for Allergy UK, Asthma UK, and NHS Choices also offer expert advice on how you can combat hay fever most effectively through the seasons of spring and summer. 

Clinically reviewed by Pooja Raichura MRPharmS & Alistair Murray MRPharmS: 30/4/18