AS many Brits make the most of the warm and sunny weather, for some the fun can be hampered by itchy eyes and runny noses.
Around 18 million people in the UK have hay fever – and more develop the pollen allergy every year.
Pollen count is high across most of the UK this week, peaking tomorrow
There’s plenty of steps that can be taken in the run up to pollen season to prevent symptoms rearing their ugly head.
But if you’ve left it too late and been caught out, or if you’re one of the estimated one million people set to develop hay fever this summer, fear not.
Here we’ve put together eight simple tricks to help relieve sneezing and itching…
1. Take antihistamines at the right time
It may seem obvious for anyone that an antihistamine will help, but it’s actually knowing when to take them that could make the difference.
For most hay fever sufferers, symptoms are worse around midday when pollen levels peak.
So taking the one-a-day anti-allergy tablets first thing in the morning will give you better protection.
But if you are someone who finds they make you drowsy then take it before bed.
Dr Sarah Jarvis told The Sun: “Part of the problem with hay fever is it depends on when your symptoms start, pollen counts tend to be higher during the day.
“So we normally say if you are going to go out, go out early in the morning or late in the evening as pollen counts tend to be lower then.”
Look for products containing Cetirizine or Loratadine – both of these work to combat allergies without making you feel tired.
Try taking one Boots Pharmaceuticals Hayfever & Allergy Relief 10mg (7 tablets), £2.99, with a glass of water every day.
2. Get undressed in the bathroom
Pollen can get trapped on clothes, so getting changed in the bathroom as soon as you get home means you won’t spread pollen around the place.
This is particularly important if you’re someone who undresses in your bedroom, then leaves your pollen-laden clothes near your bed for you to breathe in all night while you sleep.
Most bathrooms also conveniently have an extractor fan which can help draw pollen out of the room, according to hay fever adviser Louise Baillie at A.Vogel.
While you’re there, you could also hop in the shower and wash off any extra pollen that has clung to your hair or skin.
Neil Robinson, sleep expert, said: “At the end of a long day, your hair, skin and clothes will be covered in micro-particles of dust and pollen, especially if you’re spent long periods outside enjoying the sunshine.
“A quick shower before settling down for the night can help remove these allergens before you sleep, reducing night time symptoms.”
3. Put Vaseline in your nose
Dabbing a little bit of petroleum jelly around the edges of your nose works as a barrier to trap pollen before you breathe it in.
A standard tin of Vaseline will do the trick – just smear a small amount around the edge of your nostrils.
Or try HayMax, an organic drug-free allergen barrier balm that comes in five varieties, available from most pharmacies for £6.99.
It also works under the eyes to prevent them getting runny and itchy too.
Just remember to reapply if you feel like you’ve rubbed it off.
4. Use eye drops
Many hay fever sufferers will get red, sore and itchy eyes when symptoms flare up.
But to there are a couple of ways to stop them streaming and soothe irritation.
You can try eye drops with antihistamine properties, available from most pharmacies, to reduce inflammation.
Just squeeze one or two drops into each eye four times a day.
If you hate the thought of drops, you could also consider an eye mist which works in the same way – just spray it once or twice onto closed eyelids to to three times a day.
Boots Allergy Eye Mist, 10ml, £9.99, is suitable for all types of contact lenses too.
5. Wear wrap around sunglasses
You may not think wrap around sunglasses are the coolest look – but then nor are red, runny eyes.
And if you want to keep pesky pollen at bay then it’s definitely another great option to try.
They’re also effective at protecting your eyes from dust and wind as well as keeping them moisturised.
6. Try a nasal spray
If you’re struggling with a blocked, itchy or runny nose, a steroid nasal spray might provide you with some extra relief.
They work by reducing the inflammation inside the nose.
It’s best to try and use them for a week or two before you think your symptoms will start as they can take a few days to work, according to NHS advice.
They also recommend that you keep using the spray, even if you’re feeling better as it only helps if you’re using it every day.
For over-the-counter relief you could try Boots Hayfever Relief Nasal Spray £4.59, or two for £5.
Just make sure you read the label beforehand.
7. Keep windows and doors closed
It’s difficult as the temperatures start to increase, but experts say keeping your windows and doors closed as much as possible helps reduce hay fever symptoms.
According to Allergy UK, pollen levels peak early in the morning and in the evening.
So if you need to open them, avoid doing so during those times.
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8. Don’t dry clothes outside
Although the sun and fresh air make for the perfect drying solution for freshly-washed clothes, it’s a nightmare combo for hay fever sufferers.
Pollen will cling to your clean washing and cause symptoms to flare when you next pop those clothes on.
Experts recommend avoiding this especially when pollen counts are high, so be sure to check the forecast.
Otherwise, try to dry your clothes indoors where possible.
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