Allergy symptoms occur when your immune system overreacts to something that is harmless to most people but triggers a reaction in anyone sensitive to it. This substance is known as an allergen. Allergy symptoms can vary from person to person depending on what you are allergic to. Symptoms of an allergic reaction usually develop within a few minutes of being exposed to something you're allergic to, although occasionally they can develop gradually over a few hours. Read our advice to find out about the symptoms of some of the most common allergies.

Symptoms of Allergies

Hay fever (also referred to as seasonal allergic rhinitis), is an allergic reaction to pollen, an airborne allergen which is released from grass, trees, weeds and flowers. An allergic reaction is triggered when pollen comes into contact with your mouth, nose eyes and throat. Common hayfever symptoms include :

  • Sneezing
  • A runny or stuffy nose
  • Sinus discomfort
  • Itching of the eyes, nose, and back of the throat
  • Itching, watery and inflamed eyes
  • Tiredness
People with hay fever will experience their symptoms in the spring, summer and early autumn when plants release their pollen into the atmosphere.

Pets are a major source of allergens which can trigger an allergic reaction. Pet allergy is not a reaction to an animal’s fur, but actually to proteins that are found in pet dander (the dead flakes of skin that an animal sheds), their saliva or urine. The symptoms of pet allergies include:

Some people with pet allergies also have skin reactions. For instance, their skin might break out where a dog licks them. Others with more severe allergies might develop hives on their face or chest.

Dust Mite allergy symptoms People often say they're 'allergic to dust'. In fact, it's dust mites that are the problem. They live in the dust that builds up around homes in carpets, soft toys, bedding, cushions and furniture. If you have a dust mite allergy you're allergic to a substance in the dust mite droppings. Symptoms appear when you are exposed to dust and can include :

  • sneezing
  • itchy, runny or blocked nose
  • itchy eyes
  • coughing & wheezing
Indoor Mold allergy symptoms Mold allergy symptoms vary from person to person and range from mild to severe. You may have year-round symptoms or symptoms that flare up only during certain times of the year. You may notice symptoms when you're in indoor spaces that have concentrations of mold such as basements and bathrooms. Mold allergy causes the same signs and symptoms that occur in other types of upper respiratory allergies. Signs and symptoms of allergic rhinitis caused by mold allergy can include:
  • Sneezing
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Cough and postnasal drip
  • Itchy eyes, nose and throat
  • Watery eyes

Urticaria (Hives) Urticaria (hives) are red , itchy welts that result from a skin reaction when the immune system releases histamine. The histamine causes blood vessels to leak, and the skin to swell. Urticaria (or hives), can appear anywhere on the face or body Symptoms of Urticaria (hives) include:

  • Patches of red or skin-colored welts (wheals), which can appear anywhere on the body
  • These pathces of skin welts vary in size and appear and fade repeatedly as the reaction runs its course
  • Itching
  • Painful swelling (angioedema) of the lips, eyelids and inside the throat
Contact dermatitis There are two main types of contact dermatitis:
  • Irritant contact dermatitis develops when the skin is in contact with irritating substances like detergents and solvents
  • Allergic contact dermatitis occurs when allergy develops to a specific chemical or substance that has been in contact with the skin.
Symptoms of contact dermatitis occur after contact with the irritant or allergenic substance. The hands are the commonest area where contact dermatitis develops followed by the arms, neck and face. Symptoms of contact dermatitis include :
  • Itchy skin
  • Skin that becomes sore, red, dry and flaky
  • Skin that occasionally weeps or blisters
Symptoms caused by an irritant usually appear within 48 hours, or even immediately. Milder irritants (such as soap and detergents) may not cause problems immediately – you may need frequent exposure to these before they cause problems. Symptoms caused by an allergen, such as make-up or metal jewellery, often take several days to develop.