An allergic reaction occurs when the body’s immune system becomes hypersensitive to dust, pollen, animal dander or plants. Certain foods or medications can also trigger allergies. A reaction may be a rash, sneezing, coughing, itchy or watery eyes, swelling or wheezing. Treatment for an allergic reaction can be done at home if it’s mild. Long term allergies may require a prescription while severe allergies require a hospital visit.
For tips to help relieve symptoms of an allergic reaction, see home treatment for:
- A severe allergic reaction. If you have symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, call911or other emergency services immediately.
- Itching or hives. Avoid further contact with whatever you think is causing the hives.
- A sore throat caused by postnasal drip. Gargle with warm salt water to help ease throat soreness.
- Hay fever symptoms. Take an antihistamine to reduce symptoms of itchy, watery eyes; sneezing; or a runny, itchy nose. Be sure to read and follow any warnings on the label. Don’t give antihistamines to your child unless you’ve checked with the doctor first.
- Allergies that are worse in damp weather. Mold may be the cause of allergies that get worse in damp weather. Mold produces spores that move, like pollen, in outdoor air during warmer months. During winter months, indoor molds can also be a problem.
- Indoor allergies. Newer, energy-saving homes that are built with double- or triple-paned windows and more insulation keep heat as well as allergens indoors.
- Allergies to a pet or other animal. When allergies are worse around pets, symptoms may be caused by your pet’s dead skin (dander), urine, dried saliva, or hair.
- Seasonal allergies. These are often caused by exposure to pollen.
For tips on how to treat dry and irritated skin, see the topic Dry Skin and Itching.
For information on how to treat an insect bite or sting, see the topic Insect Bites and Stings and Spider Bites.
Symptoms to Watch For During Home Treatment
Use the Check Your Symptoms section to evaluate your symptoms if any of the following occur during home treatment:
- Difficulty breathing, wheezing, or tightness in the chest develops.
- Swelling of the throat, tongue, lips or face develops.
- Hives develop or get worse.
- Swelling gets worse.
- A skin infection develops.
- Symptoms have not improved after 1 to 2 weeks of home treatment.
- Symptoms become more severe or more frequent.