There are a many different allergies that can affect us either on a seasonal basis or all year round.

Having an allergy can be a nuisance and affect our everyday activities. Understanding what causes an allergic reaction in the first place and knowing the available product treatments available will help keep symptoms under control.

The most common allergies fall into one of four groups. Our information and advice is aimed at covering the most common environmental allergies, such as hay fever, dust mites, and mold and some of the most common skin allergies such as Urticaria (hives) and contact dermatitis .

Our information and advice  does not address life-threatening anaphylactic reactions (in this instance seek urgent medical advice) , or allergies to food, medications, or insects (in these instances consult your doctor or pharmacist for advice

Types 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. The allergic reaction is triggered when pollen comes into contact with your mouth, nose eyes and throat. Hay fever is usually worse between late March and September when the pollen count is at its highest as different plants release their pollen into the atmosphere. Typically the pollen season in the UK separates into three main sections:

  • Tree pollen: late March to mid-May
  • Grass pollen: mid-May to July
  • Weed pollen: end of June to September
You can use our pollen calendar  for more details of the different pollen seasons.

If your nose runs, your eyes water or you start sneezing or wheezing after being around a pet then you are likely to have a pet allergy. 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. Pet dander is a particular problem because it is very small and can remain airborne for long periods of time. It also collects easily on upholstered furniture and sticks to clothes. Any animal with fur can be a source of pet allergy, but pet allergies are most commonly associated with cats and dogs. Pet allergy is rarely caused by animals that don't have fur, such as fish and reptiles.

Many people suffer year-round from allergy symptoms (sometimes referred to a perennial allergic rhinitis) caused by indoor allergens. These triggers include dust mites, animal dander and mold. Dust Mites House dust is one of the major causes of perennial allergic rhinitis causing allergy symptoms all year round. Symptoms include a runny or stuffy nose, itchy, watery eyes and sneezing. A speck of dust can contain fabric fibres, human skin particles, microscopic creatures called dust mites, animal dander, mould spores, food particles and other debris. Of these, house dust mites and animal dander (see pet allergies) are the most common triggers of allergy symptoms. While dust mites can be found throughout the house, these microscopic creatures thrive in warm, humid environments such as bedding, upholstered furniture and carpeting. Indoor molds If you have an allergy that occurs over several seasons, you may be allergic to the spores of molds or other fungi.  Indoor molds and mildew need dampness typically found in basements, bathrooms or anywhere with leaks. Mold and mildew are fungi.  The “seeds,” called spores, travel through the air where they can be inhaled in your nose. Inhaling these spores cause allergic reactions in some people. The symptoms of mold allergy are very similar to the symptoms of other allergies, such as sneezing, itching, runny nose, congestion and dry, scaling skin.

Symptoms of an allergic skin condition can include red, bumpy, scaly, itchy or swollen skin. There are a range of different types of skin allergies. The following information is provided on two of the most common problems - Urticaria (also known as hives, weals, welts or nettle rash) and Contact Dermatitis. Urticaria (Hives) Urticaria is an inflammation of the skin, which is triggered when the immune system releases histamine. The histamine causes blood vessels to leak, and the skin to swell. This can leave you with itchy, raised, reddish bumps or welts that range in size. Urticaria (or hives), can appear anywhere on the face or body. Common causes include : - an allergic reaction to food or an insect bite - an allergic reaction to airborne allergens such as pollen, mold or pet dander - cold or heat exposure - infection- such as a cold - certain medications – such as antibiotics or non –steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s) Contact Dermatitis Contact dermatitis is an allergic skin reaction to an irritant or allergen. The reaction can appear as a rash, blisters, burning or itching. Contact dermatitis can be triggered by skin contact with a variety of allergens or irritants.  Household products like hair dyes, cosmetics, soaps and lotions can trigger contact dermatitis. If you’ve experienced sensitivity, try avoiding products with strong fragrances or chemical smells. Nickel, a metal commonly found in jewelry, is another common material that can cause an allergic reaction. Natural rubber latex, leather and medications that you put on your skin, can also be triggers, as can certain plants. The sun can also cause a skin rash when interacting with cosmetic or skin products. This is not a sun allergy, but if you develop a rash in the sun after using products like shaving lotion, sunscreen or perfume, you may be experiencing photoallergic contact dermatitis.