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The Indian monsoon is here, so are the seasonal allergies that tag along. As per reports, the monsoon had already begun by 1 June in the country, and the Indian Meteorological Department, in its long-range forecast for Southwest Monsoon 2021, said India is likely to witness a normal monsoon this year.
The June, July showers after the scorching heat of May; while it brings some relief to the heat, it is followed by a deluge of health problems in the form of allergies, skin eruptions, boils, etc.
The monsoon season is the worst for people with allergies - be it skin allergies or respiratory allergies. This article will look at some common monsoon allergies and ways to manage monsoon allergies.
Types Of Monsoon Allergies
Commonly termed as the ‘season of allergies,' the Monsoon season aggravates allergies, which are mostly pollen related. Several skin and eye infections can crop up during the rainy season, such as conjunctivitis, skin rashes, and itching.
The dampness and excessive humidity during this rainy season can increase the risk of allergens and the infections and allergies they bring with them . Here are some of the common monsoon allergies:
1. Skin allergies
The monsoon season is mainly known for its rise in skin allergies, particularly in localities where pollution levels are very high . It is quite common for clothes and shoes to get wet during the monsoon season, which then becomes a hotbed for allergies. Raincoats, jackets, and gloves made of cheap synthetic material can also cause allergies on coming in contact with the skin, giving rise to fungal infections, especially in the body folds, such as inside the elbows back of the knees .
Chemicals called histamines are produced when your body comes into direct contact with allergy triggers like ragweed, pet fur, pollen or dust mites. Antihistamines are used to treat seasonal allergies such as these. These come in different forms, including tablets, capsules, liquids, nasal sprays, and eyedrops.
Another commonly reported monsoon-related allergy is hyperpigmentation, which causes dull, dark patches on the skin, especially the face . Normally, hyperpigmentation occurs when the melanocyte (melanin-producing cell) in the skin becomes hyperactive due to direct exposure to the sun. In the monsoon season, the same occurs, but due to the lack of exposure to sunlight .
3. Acne and eczema
One of the major skin allergies reported during the monsoon season is acne and eczema . The humidity and the changing weather can cause skin irritation, redness and result in the development of acne and eczema. You can consult a skin specialist for proper medical care and attention.
4. Facial folliculitis
Folliculitis is a common skin condition in which hair follicles become inflamed and is normally reported during the monsoons. Folliculitis can occur on the upper back, arms, thighs and forehead area. Mainly caused by fungal and bacterial infection, excessive humidity, sweating, dehydration, and facial folliculitis are easily treatable. It can be prevented by controlling excessive sweating, taking regular baths and keeping the skin hydrated .
5. Mould allergies
Moulds are caused by fungi that survive on water and food sources and can grow on wet walls, between tight spaces, and even on heavy tapestry in your room. Moulds tend to increase during the rainy season and can cause various allergic problems in monsoons such as skin allergies, allergic rhinitis and allergic asthma .
6. Fungal infections
Ringworms and whitish furry growth between the fingers and toes or athlete's foot are common fungal infections during the monsoons . The high amount of perspiration during the monsoon causes the sweat to not dry, and the presence of salt on the skin irritates the skin, and the growth of fungi is extremely rapid in such region - causing itchiness and redness. Fungal infections during monsoon can rapidly spread to other parts of your body, so pay attention and take proper care of your skin .
How To Manage Monsoon Allergies?
The monsoon can be refreshing, but the heavy rains also provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes which can cause diseases such as malaria and dengue - citing the importance of taking care of your health.
The first and foremost thing is avoiding or possibly preventing exposure to potential allergic triggers . Since people spend most of their time indoors amidst the pandemic and the lockdown, the preventive measures should start from home.
- Carpets, curtains and duvets are kept clean and dust-free to avoid increased exposure to dust and dust mites.
- Wash carpets, curtains and sheet in warm water and sun drying, whenever possible.
- Leave the windows open during the sunny hours to allow fresh air to enter and indoor pollutants to escape.
- Make sure that walls and surfaces are kept dry as much as possible.
- Filters in air purifiers and air conditioners should be regularly cleaned to prevent the accumulation of dust.
- Pets should be groomed regularly to maintain hygiene levels, and if you have any respiratory illnesses, try and avoid letting them in your bedroom (just this monsoon season).
- Keep a close track of potential allergy triggers and symptoms.
- Regular cleaning can help control indoor pollution.
- Take proper precautions by using insect repellents and disinfectants such as neem leaves and cloves .
- Food such as gourd, neem seeds, dandelion greens and herbal teas can remove toxins and boost your immunity levels and beneficial during the monsoon season .
Studies have pointed out that people with a weak immune system are increasingly prone to developing monsoon allergies. Therefore, it is important that you consume foods that help improve your immunity . Here is a list of foods that are a must during the monsoon as these foods help prevent and limit the onset of seasonal allergies to an extent.
- Garlic: Packed with anti-allergic properties, garlic can be consumed raw and is an effective home remedy for cough and cold.
- Ginger: Make ginger tea your go-to drink this monsoon season. It brings about a relief from cough and brings faster respite from congestion.
- Turmeric: Apart from being a popular Indian spice, turmeric is known for its wonderful utilities as a natural antioxidant. It also has an antibacterial characteristic that makes it extremely effective as an anti-allergenic medicine.
- Apple: Apples have a flavonoid called quercetin, which is proven to significantly improve the body's immunity against infections. Eating an apple daily helps in improving immunity and is particularly essential in the monsoon season.
- Jamun: It is a low-calorie fruit, full of nutrients such as folate, iron, potassium and minerals, making jamun one of the most suitable fruits for consumption during monsoon.
Why Is There A Rise In Respiratory Allergies During Monsoon?
During the rainy season, the extremely cold environment and breeze can increase the risk of respiratory allergies . Monsoon is time for pollination for many weed pollens, and house dust mites which are the most common allergen, also grow more in monsoon because of increased humidity. Also, you may find it difficult to dry the bedsheets because of cloudy weather, which increases house dust mite load.
For people with asthma and other respiratory illnesses, the monsoon season can be increasingly difficult. The dampness in the surroundings can lead to the development of fungus, which can, in turn, cause allergy to the asthma patients leading to asthma attacks. Increased pollen, toxic gases, increased fungus and viral infection cause multiple allergies to asthma patients ending up with asthma attack .
Here are some monsoon tips for people with respiratory illnesses such as asthma:
- Avoid cuddling with your pets.
- Keep the damp places like toilets, bathroom free from fungus by cleaning them with bleach, disinfectants, detergents etc.
- Wash all the rugs, pillow covers, bed sheets with warm water.
How To Know Whether It’s A Monsoon Allergy Or COVID-19 Symptom?
It is important to understand seasonal allergies and their symptoms to distinguish them from the common cold, flu, and COVID-19. Even though there could be few similarities between these respiratory illnesses, there are factors that separate them .
- If you have bouts of sneezing, a runny and stuffed nose with watery and itchy eyes, then you are suffering from an allergy.
- Allergies can last up to months, while a common cold or flu usually lasts for 7-14 days.
- Cough is a symptom of allergy only if it is associated with bronchial asthma.
- Fever, body aches and pain are not signs of seasonal allergies.
If you have any of these symptoms, you must consult a doctor (online consultation and telemedicine) because prolonged delays can aggravate the situation leading to asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory diseases.
Note: In children, allergies have a severe impact as they are more prone to and are highly susceptible due to a developing immune system. Identifying allergies and responding quickly to the symptoms will help improve your child's quality of life .
Other Monsoon Health Problems
Apart from the afore-mentioned allergies, indigestion and other stomach problems rise sharply during monsoon. The best way to manage stomach issues is by strictly sticking to homemade food and consume it hot and fresh.
Diarrhoea, typhoid, and cholera are just some of the common health problems experienced by the populace during monsoon. This occurs because the humidity levels are generally on the higher side during the monsoon season, and the body's capacity to digest food gets compromised .
Doctors advise that drinking boiled water and avoiding outside food is the most important precaution during monsoon. Additionally, consuming fresh fruits and maintaining a proper diet is also essential. Washing hands before every meal are highly recommended and can keep you away from most infections.
On A Final Note…
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, you must take of your health and immunity levels this monsoon so as to avoid the risk of catching any form of illnesses, especially the ones that could compromise your respiratory health. Stay indoors, drink hot fluids and keep your surroundings clean.