Keeping Summer Allergies at Bay

Now that summer is finally here, it’s time to reduce exposure to bad stuff so that we can enjoy more of the good stuff.

Allergy sufferers know all about the bad stuff, since summer is one of the worst times of year for them.

The Florida Center for Allergy and Asthma Care has prepared some tips for keeping certain allergy triggers at bay. Not all of these apply to all regions of the country, but most do.

Here are some of the big ones:

“Contact Dermatitis – A common summertime contact allergy is to sunscreen products containing titanium (allergy to titanium is not as rare as it used to be). When choosing sunscreen, carefully read labels. If allergic to one of the ingredients, consult an allergist.

Symptoms may include: Skin rash, swelling, itching, bumps, blisters.

Pollen/Mold Allergy – Pollen counts rise in the summer, which means worse allergy symptoms for most people. The most common pollens during this time of year are grasses, besides mold.

Symptoms may include: Sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose, nasal congestion, itchy throat.

Minimize pollen allergy this summer:

  • Avoid exposure during morning hours.
  • Monitor daily pollen in your area.
  • Change clothing when you come indoors; wash hands and hair.
  • Opt for allergy shots

Food Allergy – 3% to 5% of children have a food allergy. The most common allergy foods include milk, wheat, egg, peanut, tree nuts and shellfish.

Symptoms may include: rash, swelling, diarrhea, vomiting, itchy throat and anaphylaxis.

Minimize food allergies this summer:

  • Make camp staff aware of the specific foods the child(ren) must not be exposed to when registering.
  • Fill in camp’s medical forms.
  • Provide food action plan and medications prescribed by allergist: sealed and not expired.
  • Train and explain how to administer epinephrine to camp staff.
  • Never share or trade foods.

Poison Ivy – Poison ivy can be found everywhere in the US except for Alaska and Hawaii. It contains a substance called urushiol that runs through every part of the plant: leaves, stems, roots. If the plant is burned, inhaling or coming in contact with the fumes can cause a severe allergic reaction.

Symptoms may include: Itchy skin, rash, bumps, hives.

Minimize poison ivy allergy this summer:

  • Symptoms are treated with cold showers, topical solutions, and in severe cases with prescription prednisone.
  • Know what it looks like, stay away from it, don’t let pets run through woods with possible presence of the plant.
  • Wear gloves and protective gear when gardening.

Allergies can negatively affect your daily life, but preventing allergy attacks can be as simple as figuring out the triggers. “By being aware, prepared and proactive, you can be a step ahead of your allergies and enjoy your summer vacation” advises Dr.Sharlene J. Llanes, board-certified allergist of FCAAC.

For more information about FCAAC visit

Please note: Dr. Sharlene J. Llanes of FCAAC is available for interviews upon request.

Fire Ants Allergy – Now infests more than 260 million acres in the southern United States. The most serious reaction is anaphylaxis, which requires immediate medical treatment, including an injection of epinephrine and a trip to a hospital emergency room. If not treated properly and timely, anaphylaxis can be fatal.

Symptoms may include: Hives, tightness in the chest and difficulty in breathing, swelling of the tongue or throat, dizziness or sharp drop in blood pressure.

Avoid fire ant stings this summer by keeping these tips in mind:

  • Insect repellents DO NOT work against them.
  • Avoid sandals or walking barefoot on the grass.
  • Keep prescribed medications handy and follow instructions if stung.”

As you can see, that last one (fire ants) isn’t really a problem in places like Maine or Oregon. However, fire ants are on the march, infesting more and more parts of the country each year – including places you might be visiting.

Otherwise, this serves as a fairly good primer on allergy avoidance. Have a sneeze (and ER) free summer.

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