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Allergies in Women: Why There’s a Higher Risk

Posted on March 22nd, 2021

Developing Allergies is More Prevalent in Women

Every spring, allergy season comes around. Depending on the reaction type and the level of sensitivity, eye symptoms can arise because of an allergy.

While both men and women develop allergies, women, on average, deal with more triggers and genetically stand higher chances of developing sensitivities throughout their lives. But why is this?

What makes women more prone to allergies?

According to studies by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, adult females are at a higher risk for allergies, asthma, and autoimmune diseases.

It’s not just hormones that are responsible in the uptick of female allergies, genetics are just as influential, as is pregnancy.

Hormonally, it is estrogen and its fluctuations in the female body that are responsible for the symptoms and onset. Estrogen promotes the release of histamine, which is the main culprit behind experiencing allergic discomfort and pain. Progesterone and cortisol are another pairing that make a difference; during monthly and other fluctuations in hormone levels, dips in progesterone levels may come with an onset of allergies.

What does that mean for your eyes?

Women in general are found to have more severe symptoms when experiencing an allergic reaction to pollen and food.  Allergies and asthma manifest differently in every individual, so pre-emptively seeking a doctor’s advice is the best step forward. Most allergies have some effect on your eyes, therefore the starting point to discovering sensitivities and triggers usually starts at the optometrist’s office.

When suffering an onset of allergies, your eyes usually experiencethe typical signs of distress: Redness, swelling, itching, burning sensations, tearing up, sensitivity to light, clear watery discharge, scaling around the eyes, and swollen or puffy eyelids.

Don’t forget symptoms may present in one or both eyes. A common misconception is that allergies will occur in both eyes simultaneously. Read our post on seasonal allergies and eye health, here.

What can you do?

Use gentler makeup removers.

Whether it’s causing your allergies or irritating existing ones, any soap you use around the delicate eye area should be carefully considered. This is especially true for women who have sensitive skin or suffer from allergies often. Some products in eye makeup remover and facial cleansers can even trigger new allergies to emerge.

Fragrances, essential oils, and alcohol are ingredients to consider avoiding when you’re checking the back of the bottle. 

Tip: A humble jar of petroleum jelly can do wonders and quickly removes even the most stubborn makeup.

Use good quality products to soothe and replenish moisture.

Like the ingredients in your cleanser, facial and eye creams can be filled with pleasantly smelling ingredients that do nothing for your skin. If you suffer from allergies, or seem to get irritated after applying your moisturizer, check the list of ingredients and consider switching to something with a lower ingredient list, or a product a dermatologist or allergist has recommended.

Tip: If fragrance is something you can’t or don’t want to avoid, make sure its as low on the list as possible or contains natural fragrance instead. .

Use your sunglasses as protection.

Wearing sunglasses may make a big impact for seasonal allergy sufferers. Just by having a large protective barrier in front of your eyes can slow down wind, which often carries allergen causing particles. A good pair of sunnies will block out UV radiation, which can cause your eyes to be more sensitive.

Learn more about what your sunglasses should have to protect your eyes in our blog.

Over the counter eye drops could really help.

They may not be equipped with medicines to actively fight your allergies, but over the counter eyedrops made specifically for allergy sufferers often really help with symptoms. Adding more moisture to a dry eye may reduce redness and irritation. Speak to your OD for a recommendation on what product is best for you, as soothing the symptoms may be a huge relief, preventing irritating the condition further. 

Keep a few frozen pads to soothe eyes.

You may have seen spa-like gel pads or ice pack specifically shaped for the eyes in your pharmacy. Check with your eye doctor if a product like this is recommended for you, and consider picking up a pair in store or online. Keeping them in the freezer or fridge can feel refreshing and may alleviate irritation. Place them gently on your eyes for around 10 minutes while relaxing.

Tip: In a pinch, a classic slice of cold cucumber can be placed on the eyes.

Talk to your doctor about the birth control you’re taking.

Who knew? Since women’s allergic reactions and tendencies are closely tied to hormones, your birth control can have an impact on your allergic reactions, and even what you may develop to an allergy to. Talking to your health practitioner about what you can expect can help you reduce the chances of dry eye and allergies, or at least puts you in the driver’s seat when preparing for allergy season.

Often, the first step towards maneuvering allergies and symptoms starts with an eye exam. Your eye doctor will work with you to determine reasons and severity of your eye problems and will work with your allergist to create a plan and course of action best for you.

Book your appointment at a local FYidoctors today.