When cleanliness becomes a problem

By Dr DM Mahajan

We have encountered reports that allergies are on the rise, with climate change a huge factor. Are you seeing a rise in cases of common allergies?

Yes, definitely. We are seeing a slight increase in number of cases of common allergies that can be attributed to climate change.

Any new allergies that are being reported?

Allergies due to soaps and sanitisers due to excessive usage of them are frequent since the pandemic.

What can people do to safeguard against such allergies? What are the allergens to be cautious against?

To safeguard against such allergies, the following steps can be taken:

  • Avoid exposing skin to extreme temperature
  • Stay hydrated
  • Wear protective clothing
  • Keeping yourself indoors on extremely dry or hot days
  • Avoid going outside in the early morning as the pollen count is at its peak
  • Invest in dehumidifier to keep indoor air dry

Allergens to which one need to be cautious against include:

  • Pollens
  • Dust
  • Extreme heat
  • Smoke
  • Sweat

People tend to pop antihistamines indiscriminately. Does this help, and if not, how does it affect the immune system negatively?

Antihistamines are most common drugs to treat allergies but can cause significant side-effects when used for a long term. If they are used for several days continuously, they can cause lack of tolerance or lack of clinical effect on the body, resulting in the body being susceptible to prolonged infections.

When should people seek medical attention?

As soon as any skin allergies arise, one should consult a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

Do any lotions or ointments help?

Yes, lotions or ointments have ingredients that acts as a soothing agent and helps in relieving any skin irritation. But they should be used only as prescribed by a medical expert.

Dr DM Mahajan is MD (Dermatology), DLO (ENT), Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, New Delhi