Keeping it clean
One of the problems you’ll probably have noticed when hayfever has you by the nose is that you seem to become far more sensitive to everything. Your skin is more prone to rashes, your stomach may feel more sensitive and smells such as perfumes or aftershave may seem stronger or just different.
One of the reasons for this is that hayfever reactions involve inflammation; you are full of inflammatory compounds such as histamine, and this causes the swelling, redness and itching you know so well. Histamine also mediates some aspects of gut function too, so it’s no wonder your digestive system feels a little off-kilter when histamine is wreaking havoc on your body.
The swelling that histamine causes in your nasal passages makes your respiratory tract far more sensitive to airborne irritants, including particles of perfume, air fresheners, spray deodorants and cleaning agents.
Meanwhile, your skin is ultra-sensitive because histamine makes the blood vessels dilate more easily, so that flushing, itching and strange prickling sensations are regular companions. Inflamed skin is less able to keep out chemicals that the body would rather not have in the bloodstream. The barrier usually provided by the skin is less effective and more likely to soak up toxins than repel them.
All of this means that your reactions to anything even vaguely challenging to the immune system, or which your body would usually shrug off, may be exaggerated. Your usual soaps, shampoos, shaving creams, makeup and sunscreen products may suddenly cause your skin to flare or your nose to become blocked.
Some irritants are impossible to avoid. Given that you can’t put yourself in a protective bubble until airborne pollen has vanished, and seeing that for some people the reactions are ongoing (constituting allergic rhinitis more than hayfever), it’s quite important to minimize the sources of trouble that you can.
A sigh of relief
Keep your home and work environment free of flowers and plants for the time being. Particularly troublesome can be lilies, chrysanthemums, sunflowers and daisies, but your body may react to other flowers too, so keep away from people receiving birthday bouquets, and don’t hug any brides until they’ve thrown their bouquet to the lucky next woman to find true love.
Cleaning up your act
Give your cleaning supply cupboard an overhaul. There are so many good brands of chemical-free, gentle but effective cleaning products available, offering a wide choice of ways to keep your home clean without insulting your respiratory tract.
Start with your dish detergent or dishwasher products, then look at your surface spray or cleanser, before moving on to your laundry detergent and any air freshening products (the latter of which are often particularly laden with noxious substances).
If you work in an office, ask that your desk and surroundings be kept free of chemical cleansing sprays and surface cleaners.
When driving, remove air fresheners from your car interior – even good, essential-oil-based products may irritate your nose and eyes at this point.
Soaps, gels and body washes are often loaded with elements that may further irritate your already delicate skin or sinuses. Again, the wealth of products in any health products store or specialist cosmetics store gives you plenty of beautifully effective yet gentle and non-irritating options.
Shampoos and conditioners that are free from harsh chemicals are available in many ranges. It’s worth talking to staff in health product and cosmetics stores to get their recommendations on the best brands for your ultra-sensitive body.
If you use hair dyes, then now might be a good time to consider swapping to a natural range to lessen the amount of chemicals bombarding your scalp. Remember that the surface of the skin is more inflamed and therefore more porous when you’re awash with histamine.
Making it up
To reduce the likelihood of irritation, you should discard old makeup brushes and products and rigorously clean your makeup bags and cupboards using chemical-free cleaning products! Do a clean sweep and get yourself kitted out with brands that aren’t cruel to your skin, animals or the environment.
Check out a range of pure deodorants to keep you smelling sweet without burdening your system with toxins. Try Crystal Body Deodorant, which is 100% natural and provides long lasting and effective protection against body odour.
What are your favourite “clean” products for keeping your toxic load low?