5 Things to Know About Allergies at the Beach


BeachSummer is here and for many of us, that means packing up the car and heading to the beach. The trip is an especially nice break for seasonal allergy sufferers because due to the breeze coming off the water, and lack of trees and grasses, pollen counts at the shore are much lower than they are inland.

Unfortunately this doesn’t mean that there are no pesky allergy triggers lurking at the beach, and in this blog, we are going to look at some not-so-common irritants that you should be aware when you and your family hit the sand.

  1. Sun. We all know about the dangers of burning and melanoma, but did you know that people can also be allergic to the sun? We’re not talking about sunscreen, although that can trigger an allergic reaction as well; we mean the actual sun. Certain medical conditions and medications can make people extra sensitive to the sun, but others actually experience allergic reactions, even if exposed for a short time. These reactions are due to cholinergic or solar urticaria:
    • Cholinergic Urticaria, also known as heat rash, manifests as chronic hives caused by an increase in body heat. This temperature change can be due to many things, including warm weather and hot sun. For resources on the condition, visit CholinergicUrticaria.net.
    • Solar Urticaria occurs with direct exposure from the sun and manifests as a itching, redness and hives. Verywell.com explains, “[I]t appears that people with solar urticaria make allergic antibodies against various proteins found in their own skin. These proteins’ structure changes with sunlight, allowing the allergic reaction to occur.” If the reaction is severe enough, solar urticaria can lead to anaphylactic shock.
  2. Mold. This well-known allergen thrives in dampness and humidity, and these conditions are thriving in coastal and beach areas, both indoors and out.
  3. Dust mites. Where there is warmth and humidity, there are also dust mites. In fact, dust mites peak during the summer months both in coastal and inland areas (along with all the seasonal insects that can trigger allergic reactions).
  4. Water. H2O, itself, presents no danger to allergy sufferers, but we can’t say the same for some of the things in it.
    • According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, people are not actually allergic to chlorine, but it does function as an irritant and can cause skin redness, itchiness, inflammation and hives. It can also cause respiratory symptoms in people with asthma and allergic rhinitis.
    • Mayo Clinic describes swimmer’s itch as “an allergic reaction to microscopic parasites that burrow into your skin. The parasites associated with swimmer’s itch normally live in waterfowl and some animals that live near the water.” The red or purple bumps are annoying, but harmless, and don’t last long. They can, however, take days to develop.
  5. BBQs. Of course you should always be sensitive to people’s food allergies, but you’ll also want to consider how you are cooking that food. Grill fires built with wood such as mesquite, oak, cedar and hickory contain allergens that may affect people with sensitive tree allergies. Verywell.com cautions, “[I]t is possible to be allergic to the smoke, and to any food barbecued with the smoke.”

Summertime should be all about living easy and taking advantage of the warm weather. With an understanding of the risks associated with the season, you will be able to make sure you and your family enjoy safe and healthy fun in the sun!

For information on all things sinusitis and allergy, visit the CT Sinus Center website and blog.

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