With the pollen count reaching an uncomfortable high – thanks to a “pollen bomb” covering the UK this week – and our eyes swelling accordingly, we’re reminded once again that hay fever has its wicked way with nearly a quarter of us every year. Pollen affects people in different ways, but the allergic reaction it triggers can bring on a raft of unpleasant symptoms, from itchy, red eyes and a scratchy throat to persistent sneezing, headaches and fatigue.
Staying inside doesn’t mean you’re safe from it, either. “Pollen particles are tiny and can travel far and wide,” says Parvinder Sagoo, lead pharmacist and clinical advisor at Simply Meds, which offers an array of medications to tackle hay fever. “If you’re opening your windows and doors more often to let air in, they will find their way inside your home and attach themselves to various household items, as well as travelling directly into your eyes or nasal passages.”
If you suffer from hay fever – and have for a while – you’ll know that antihistamines and airway-clearing nasal sprays can help, but there are also some natural ways to help ease pollen’s grip on you this summer – even when hay fever season is at its peak.
Here are 10 of the best natural hay fever remedies to try now.
1.The balm trick
“The main cause of persistent sneezing is usually pollen particles entering and settling in your nasal passage, causing a tickling sensation which leads to short bursts of sneezing,” says Sagoo. To trap them before they enter, dab a balm, like Vaseline, Glossier Balm Dotcom or Haymax Barrier Balm around the opening of each nostril, making sure to reapply throughout the day and especially after blowing your nose.
2.Keep an eye on pollen forecasts
If your hay fever is really bad, it pays to be prepared. Check the Met Office website, which offers a pollen forecast that is available five days in advance – it also provides in-depth detail to help you plan around areas and times of heightened pollen. As a general rule, levels are highest in the early morning and late afternoon, so avoid grassy areas at these times where possible.
3.Wash your face regularly
It may sound obvious, but washing is important when pollen particles are so good at clinging to clothes, faces and hands. “You want to ensure you are washing enough throughout the day to keep your hands and face free from lingering pollen. I recommend washing your face twice daily with water, ensuring you’re allowing it to enter your nose and eyes to wash pollen out – it’s especially important if itchy or watery eyes are a symptom for you,” says Sagoo. Cooling masks help with puffy, red eyes – pop Vichy’s Mineral 89 sheet mask into the fridge to help fortify the skin barrier, while deeply hydrating and taking down irritated eyes. Ensure clothes are washed as much as possible too, whether they’ve been outside or not, to help rid them of dust or pollen.
4.Soothe your eyes
Soothe puffy and irritated eyes by applying eye drops regularly. Optrex’s Hayfever & Allergy Itchy Eye Drops are excellent and can help immeasurably. Meanwhile, for immediate relief (and some cooling action), keep a pair of cryo globes, like Quantum Botanika’s Cryo Depuffer, in your fridge, and hold over eyes whenever you’re in need.
5.Try a nasal cleanse
Up the ante on your normal face cleanse with a “nasal cleanse”, a ritual that is about as glamorous as it sounds. “It’s a great way to get rid of any lingering irritants which have attached themselves to hairs high up in your nasal passage,” says Sagoo. “Use a salt water solution once or twice a day, tip your head at an angle over your bath or sink and try to use a funnel-like tool to shoot the salt water solution straight into your nose.” The surge of water should help flush out and remove any irritants, while cleaning the area of mucus.
6.Close windows and doors
Pollen can drift in through open windows and doors, so if it really affects you, consider keeping them closed where possible. “I would advise only opening windows and doors for a short period each day – morning is probably best as the pollen count is notably less high in the morning and evening than in the middle of the day,” says Sagoo. “If you live in a flat and it gets stuffy and hot, open the windows a crack and perhaps place a catching sheet or something similar over it, so it’s harder for pollen particles to enter.” Additionally, an air purifier will automatically sense and capture 99.95 per cent of particle pollution, including spores, allergens and pollen within your home – more than worth the money.
7.Clean your house
“Dust and mites can spark the onset of hay fever and similar allergies, so reducing and regularly removing dust all around your house will ease the causes of allergies,” says Chris Michael, MD of air purifier specialist, Meaco. “Vacuum often using a hoover with a HEPA filter to capture pollen particles, and make sure the filter is changed regularly to maintain its efficiency.”
8.A spoonful of honey
“Honey is a natural remedy for hay fever, because the bee pollen within it can desensitise your body to other pollens,” says Sagoo. “Increasing your intake can reduce hay fever symptoms significantly.” A spoonful or two per day straight out of the jar will do the trick, or add it to your breakfast or a hot drink.
9.Try herbal teas
Different herbal blends can help take down our allergies while simultaneously calming our minds. Teas with turmeric and ginger (try Pukka’s Three Ginger tea) are brilliant all-rounders to sip throughout the day, while those that contain peppermint can help alleviate nasal congestion and soothe a head that feels blocked. Similarly, hot water mixed with fresh ginger and a dash of the aforementioned honey can help to ward off toxins.
10.Do your laundry – often
Just like our clothes, our sheets, towels, sofa covers and throws can hold onto pollen and other airborne particles, which is worth bearing in mind if you’ve tried everything else already. “It’s vitally important for bedding to be washed at least once a week, or even after a few sunny days during which the pollen count has soared,” advises Sagoo. Do note that you should avoid drying your clothes outdoors, to prevent pollen sticking to the fabric.
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