“Unlike fall or spring allergies, which are often a response to outdoor allergens like pollen, winter allergies are caused by the presence of substances inside our home. While these indoor allergens are present year-round, allergies can flare up In winter because you are confined to the house with the windows closed,” says Dr. Tropti Gilada, Infectious Disease Specialist, Masina Hospital, Mumbai.
Winter usually means staying indoors which leads to overexposure to indoor allergens. “During the winter, staying indoors increases exposure to dust on carpets, furniture, toys etc., pollen and insects such as mites and cockroaches, pets can carry dust and pollen on their fur. People who are prone to allergies can be the most affected and it may worsen. Conditions like asthma, seasonal rhinitis, urticaria etc.” Dr. Charu Joel Sachdeva, HOD and Consultant- Internal Medicine HCMCT Manipal Hospitals Dwarka New Delhi
Pollen from plants and air pollution also lend to this problem. Children and the elderly have mostly been locked indoors due to the Covid pandemic, so going out especially with kids who go to school will expose them to many allergens outdoors as well.
Climate, pollen, indoor dust and mites cause a large number of allergic reactions. Dry skin during the winter can lead to hives. Dr. Sachdeva adds that people with conditions such as asthma, sinusitis and other respiratory illnesses may feel their symptoms worsen.
Symptoms are common to other allergies and can often be confused with an infection. Unlike most respiratory infections, winter allergies tend to be a problem for longer periods of time and may have a smoother course. “Common symptoms include runny/stuffy nose, itchy throat, watery eyes, cough, sore throat, slight fever, etc. Additional symptoms such as chest tightness, shortness of breath, fatigue, and wheezing may appear in severe allergic cases,” he says. Dr. Farah Engal, Director of Internal Medicine, Fortis Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi.
How do you treat them?
Nasal decongestant/nasal wash recommended to remove mucus and relieve swelling. You can opt for over-the-counter medications — antihistamines, prescription nasal steroids,” says Dr. Engal. The important thing is to know how to prevent or reduce exposure to allergens.
“When the skin becomes dry in the winter, people should use a pH-balanced moisturizing soap and body lotion and immediately after taking a shower, they should gently pat the skin with a soft towel and not rub it. Then the moisturizing body lotion should be applied to slightly damp skin to restore hydration,” says Dr. Navjot. Arora, MBBS, MD (SKIN), Consultant Dermaheal Skin and Hair Clinic.
“Immunotherapy or allergy shots is where a person is gradually exposed to higher doses of the allergen to create immunity inside the body,” Dr. Engal says.
Keeping humidity below 50 percent helps reduce dust mites. Dehumidifiers are often very useful for such individuals.
Vacuum carpets and rugs frequently. Remove the carpet from wall to wall.
“Cleaning regularly. Wet wiping is better than dusting, which causes allergens to hang in the air. If you’re the one who struggles during the winter months, have someone else in your house dust and vacuum. “If you can, leave the house while the cleaning is done,” says Dr. Gilada.
Wash your pets weekly, if possible, to remove dander and other allergens from their fur. Wash your hair after playing with pets and before bed