Allergies part 1

Focus on allergies - part 1

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In part one of her three part series, Naturopath Jodi Van Dyk delves into the increasingly common world of allergies. Part one will discuss allergies, how they come about, potential causes and varying types.

Allergies are becoming increasingly common in Australia. According to the Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA), one in three people will suffer from an allergy at one point in their life.

When you think of allergies you might picture some one who has red, watery eyes, a runny nose and is constantly sneezing. This represents a classical picture of hay fever; however, allergies can take on many forms and cause different symptoms, including itchy skin, hives, welts, swelling and lung problems

How do allergies come about?

Allergies occur when the immune system reacts to something in the environment, causing damage to tissue as it tries to fight off the threat, which should otherwise be harmless to the body. The substances that cause allergies are known as allergens and are varied, including substances such as animal dander, grasses, pollen, dust mites, food, moulds, insects and some medicines.

What happens in the body during an allergic attack?

In acute allergies we must be ‘sensitised’ to an allergen before an allergic response occurs. When we initially come into contact with an allergen no reaction occurs, only sensitisation. However when exposed to the allergen again the body has already been sensitised, and a reaction occurs; the body releases a host of inflammatory chemicals including histamine. The inflammatory chemicals cause typical symptoms seen in allergy which include runny nose (allergic rhinitis), runny eyes, hives and red, itchy skin.

Most allergies are mild to moderate, causing irritation and perhaps a loss of function, however some particular allergies can be life threatening, causing what is known as anaphylactic shock.

Types of allergies

Seasonal allergies – usually occur at varying times of the year generally either autumn/winter or spring/summer. These are as a result of airborne allergens such as pollens or grasses. These can cause runny nose, itchy throat, and red runny eyes.

Perennial allergies – these are allergies that occur all year round. These are generally in response to dust mites, animal dander, mould and occasionally food additives.

* Both seasonal and perennial allergies can be commonly referred to as ‘hay fever’

Animal allergies – an allergy to mainly pet hair. Allergens can arise from the fur, dander, saliva, faeces and urine. Allergic reaction usually occurs via inhalation of the allergen.

Allergic contact dermatitis – this allergy affects the skin and causes a weeping red rash, which usually shows up within 1-2 days of exposure to an allergen.

Hives (urticaria) – causes weal like swellings in the skin which can be as a result of contact with an allergen or ingestion of a food allergen.

Eczema/asthma – allergies can be found in those suffering from atopic conditions such as asthma or eczema. Allergies can trigger a flare up or an attack or can be implicated in causing inflammation.


Atopic individuals have an inherited tendency to allergies.[2] Atopic individuals do not need the initial ‘sensitisation’ exposure to an allergen before responding to it.[2] These people will respond immediately to the allergen even in small amounts. Many cases of eczema and asthma can be linked to atopic individuals.

References available on request

Dear John,
I am unsure, from your query, as to whether you know what allergy has caused this skin issue. As the wound is weeping I suggest you inform your health practitioner so that it can be evaluated and diagnosed. Also be aware to keep the wound clean to prevent infection.
There can be many reasons for skin reactions and it is helpful to identify a cause. Laundry detergents, foods, pollens, physical sensations (such as tight clothing), environmental or chemical exposure, medications and even viruses can all be identifiable factors. By you and your practitioner reviewing when this started, and what changes occurred around the same time period, you can sometimes identify the catalyst.
I suggest a chickweed cream to soothe some of the itching (around the area, not on the open wound) but also for you to investigate further.
Nutritionally, vitamins A, C, E and the mineral zinc are recommended for proper wound healing, as well as a healthy immune response. Vit C can be found in leafy green vegetables, berries, citrus fruits and avocados, while nuts and seeds provide great sources of A and E.
For sensitive skin always keep the skin hydrated (consuming 6-8 glass of water), wash with oat based soaps and creams and use laundry products for “sensitive skin”.
Please feel free to contact the Blackmores Naturopathic Advisory service on 1800-803-760, or email us at if you require any further assistance.Kind regards,Michelle (Blackmores Naturopath)
This alergi effect the skin and couse weeping red spot,and is very itching I don't know what to do , please help if you can.
Anonymous 13 Oct 2014
Hi Wendy,
being hypersensitive does make life very challenging indeed! I recommend seeking the advice of a naturopath in private practice to assess what may be causing your sensitivities and what the best course of action may be… that is, if you are needing any advice. All the best, Leanne (a Blackmores naturopath)
Seems I am allergic to so many things
Fish Oils make my glans swell, cough medicine gives me anxiety,
probiotics make me sick on the inside and dairy and wheat bloat me and
make my asthma worse.
I now go organic, no wheat, no flours, no dairy, no tin foods or bottle foods other than fresh juices.
No cheeses, so it does not leave much other than fresh foods.
Funny I can eat nuts.
Anonymous 31 Jul 2014
If you are allergic to pets....a Bichon Frise dog has wool and not fur. I have a Bichon and I am asthmatic... wonderful pet, clean, do not smell and loving. If you have allergies get a Bichon.
A poodle also is a good dog for anyone with allergies.
Anonymous 31 Jul 2014
Hi Susan, Thanks for your post.
Oh yes getting rid of your beautiful doggie is not an option. So you may like to consider improving your immunity and also that of your dog. Consider vitamin C for yourself as this helps with the immune response and has an anti-histamine effect on the body. It is important in immunity as it is involved in the function of white blood cells and antibodies.
The nutrients of Horseradish, Garlic + Vit C have traditionally been used to relieve symptoms of allergies. Cod Liver Oil is a rich source of vitamin A and D and supports a healthy immune system while maintaining healthy mucous membranes and may assist with itching skin.
Blackmores have a pet range and you may like to investigate immune boosting nutrients to help your dog have the best immune response also. The animal care website is
Susan, you may like to contact the Blackmores Naturopaths on 1800 803 760 from Australia or via email on, so we can assist you on a more individual level.
We wish you all the best with your health, Gina (Blackmores naturopath)
I have just this week developed symptoms that indicate that at the age of 56 and having lived with pets all my life I am now allergic to my dog. I have weepy eyes, and nose. I have red inflamed itchy patches on my skin, most notable on my wrists and palms, but any other part of my body that I might itch. I also have a tightness of the chest.
How do you suggest that I should deal with this. Getting rid of my dog is not an option for me.

Many thanks,

Anonymous 24 Jul 2014
I suffer from Dermatitis, could you recommend anything
Anonymous 02 Jul 2014