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Mild allergy medicines

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 3 minutes read
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Most allergies are mild and require minimal treatment. They’re usually cleared within a few hours or days. They rarely cause significant problems or a threat to your health.

Hay fever and animal allergies are the most common type of mild allergies. An immune response is provoked when you come into contact with pollen or animal dander, releasing a substance called histamine. It gives specific symptoms such as a runny or blocked nose, sneezing, watery or itchy eyes, or an itchy skin rash.

Doctor’s advice

Next steps

It’s important to determine whether you have a true allergy that prompts an immune response, and whether over-the-counter treatments will work to reduce the histamine release to relieve symptoms. If you have a food intolerance, sensitivity, or chemical irritation to a dusty environment rather than a true allergy, these medications won’t help your symptoms. Let’s talk you through the options.

Healthwords pharmacists' top tips

There are two approaches to relieving mild allergy symptoms, prevention and treatment.

Preventing allergen contact: avoiding an allergen as much as possible will help. So, when the pollen count is high, stay indoors with windows shut and avoid grassy areas. Protecting yourself with sunglasses and a hat or cap can also reduce hay fever reactions, and applying Vaseline or other barrier balms around the nose and eyes can trap pollen before it gets to you.

If animal dander is a trigger, take steps to minimize contact with pets. But sometimes avoidance isn’t possible, so you could take an antihistamine ahead of time if you know you will be exposed to an allergen that sets you off.

Where food allergies are concerned, it makes sense to be alert for obvious and hidden ingredients when buying food in shops and restaurants, so always check the label or ask staff.

Treatment: once exposed, antihistamines reduce the immune response to allergens. They can be taken as tablets, capsules, creams, liquids, eye drops, or nasal sprays, depending on which part of your body is affected by your allergy. Steroid creams can reduce inflammation and irritation on the skin, and decongestants can be used short-term for a blocked nose.

The pharmacy can help guide you with antihistamine tablets, creams, liquids, eye drops, and nasal sprays. They sell mild steroid creams and decongestants. However, not all of these may be suitable or applicable. Speak to your pharmacist to find out which treatment would be best for you.

When should I see my doctor?

If you or your child has experienced a moderate or severe allergic reaction for the first time, go and see your doctor. If you’ve tried the over-the-counter treatment and your allergy is still bothersome, you should book an appointment with your doctor to be reassessed, and they may prescribe a stronger antihistamine or stronger steroid cream.

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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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