For those who suffer from pollen allergies, the winter can be a welcome relief from their symptoms. But unfortunately, cold weather can be exactly what causes other ailments to flare-up, like asthma and skin allergies.
Even down here in Georgia, we know that cold air can take a toll on your body.
As the temperature drops, many people’s risk of an asthma attack increases.
Cold, dry air can irritate your airways, causing the muscles inside to tighten or spasm. You also have the added risk of the flu virus which circulates in the winter.
Reducing your risk of an asthma attack.
Small changes can make a big difference when it comes to protecting yourself this winter.
- Get a flu shot. The flu vaccine is your best defense against the flu. And though you can get a flu shot anytime in the winter, we suggest getting it no later than December 1st.
- Wash your hands often. Washing your hands before you eat, after going to the bathroom, and before getting into bed for the night can significantly reduce your chances of catching the flu.
- Exercise inside. Though it may not always seem like it, exercise is very important for people with asthma because it strengthens their lung capacity and can help them breathe easier over time. But even many people without asthma find it hard to workout in the cold. When temperatures are really low, keep up with your exercise regimen but consider moving it inside.
- Wear a scarf when outside. Whether you’re running errands or going for a walk, a scarf that covers your neck and mouth can help protect your lungs and airways by warming the air before you breathe it in.
- Use a humidifier. Even indoor air quality can suffer in the winter, so invest in a humidifier to ease your breathing.
Dust, Mold, and Pet Dander Allergies
Though we tend to associate spring with allergy season, the winter can also be a difficult time for people who suffer from allergies. Because homes can sit closed up for months, people with an allergy to dust, mold, and pet dander may notice their symptoms getting worse.
Reducing your risk of an allergy attack.
- Keep humidity levels in your home around 50 percent.
- Invest in wood or tile floors rather than carpet. Even with regular vacuuming, carpets trap allergens and moisture.
- Wash your sheets and pillow cases in hot water once a week to kill any dust mites that might be living on them.
- Use hypoallergenic pillow cases, sheets, and mattress covers if you notice you’re having a hard time breathing at night.
- Dust your home once or twice a week.
Thanks to the dry air, skin allergies also tend to flare-up in the winter. The most common skin allergies are:
Eczema typically presents as dry, red, and incredibly itchy patches of skin. In severe cases, a person may notice small bumps or bubbles forming under their skin that contain a clear liquid.
Hives can range from red spots to welts on a person’s skin. Depending on how long they last, your hives may be considered acute (appearing for less than six weeks) or chronic (appearing for more than six weeks).
A rash, blisters, or itchy skin may be the result of coming in contact with something you’re allergic to, such as pets, mold, fragrances, or jewelry.
The “Winter Itch”
Does your skin ever crack or feel more sensitive throughout the winter? While the winter itch isn’t exactly an allergy, it’s a skin condition that many people experience.
Alleviating your symptoms.
If your symptoms are mild, you may find relief from an over the counter moisturizer that’s free of dyes and fragrances.
If your symptoms are more severe, you may benefit from a steroid cream or biological shots. Biological shots work by targeting specific receptors in a person’s immune system, which prevents a reaction from occurring. And unlike traditional systemic drugs that affect the entire immune system, biological shots are personalized and only target one specific part of the immune system.
Whether you suffer from severe asthma or a skin disease, biological shots can help manage your symptoms. At Center for Allergy and Asthma of Georgia, we’re proud to offer:
- Nucala, which is used to treat asthma in children six and above, as well as adults.
- Xolair, which is used to treat asthma in those age six and up. It’s also able to treat those with hives.
- Dupixent, which can help treat eczema and asthma in children 12 and above, and adults.
- Fasenra, which is being used to treat asthma.
- Cinqair, which can help manage asthma in adults.
If you have asthma or are experiencing a skin allergy, know that these things don’t just have to be a part of your everyday life — relief is possible.
With winter only a few weeks away, schedule your same-day appointment with Center for Allergy and Asthma of Georgia today. Our team of board-certified allergy specialists will discuss your options and recommend an appropriate course of treatment. Contact us at (404) 994-3574 or visit us online to book your appointment.