Allergies: The Hidden Risks of Festivals


Allergies: The Hidden Risks of FestivalsThe time has come to celebrate music (of any genre), food, flowers, fashion, time periods or anything else you are passionate about: It’s festival season. However, before you pack your bag and head out for the festivities, there are a few things to keep in mind if you suffer from allergies.

Nature. Most festivals are held in the great outdoors. This means that as a festival-goers, you can expect to be surrounded not only by an abundance of new friends, but also countless (and familiar) allergy triggers, such as pollen,  mold and even sun and heat. Since you will be outdoors much of the time, your exposure to these triggers will be prolonged, so be sure to take the proper precautions (whether that means taking medication, applying bug repellant, wearing sunscreen  and/or limiting outside time as much as possible).

Food. What fun is a festival without delicious food! However, whether you are purchasing your meals from a food truck or a concession stand, it’s very difficult to know what ingredients are being used. This is especially true because the food at festivals tends to be as creative as the participants surrounding it, which can be very dangerous if you have any food allergies or intolerances. If this is an issue, make sure to ask vendors for the list of ingredients in what you want to order; they are probably asked this all the time and will not hesitate to tell you. Remember that a  festival is not the time to become an adventurous eater because if you do, you may spend the rest of the festival indisposed, and no one wants that. You may even be able to bring your own food if the festival allows, which can be life- and money-saving.

Body Decorating.  This may be a strange thing to see on a list talking about allergies, but it’s here because it’s not something people of think about. Over the years, face painting and fake tattoos have become a staple of the festival scene, for children and adults, but they have also been known to cause a  reaction, most often on the skin.  Another popular festival adornment that can cause a reaction is henna. Heather from Henna by Heather explains:

The number one thing to watch out for is people using what they may call “black henna” that actually isn’t henna at all, but is instead paraphenylenediamine aka PPD for short. It is a highly concentrated industrial dye that is also used in many commercial hair dyes. It is not intended to be used on skin, and can give serious chemical burns and leave scars.

Real, natural henna, on the other hand, typically only contains natural ingredients. My professional mix includes the leaves of the henna plant, lemon juice, and cajeput essential oil. We keep a list of all the ingredients prominently posted in our booth and are always happy to answer questions.

Professionals will be able to quickly and easily list the ingredients in their mix, which should all be plant-based and all natural. If in doubt, ask for a tiny test spot. If that spot is light orange the first day, chances are that it is indeed natural henna. If it’s dark brown or, worse, black, right away, steer clear.

If you keep all of these things in mind, you can kick off the 2017 festival season right and celebrate without too much allergy suffering until it’s time for fall festival season to begin.  If you want to be proactive, make an appointment at CT Sinus Center by calling 860-BALLOON for a diagnosis of what’s causing your symptoms and a permanent solution to end them.

For more information on sinus– and allergy-related conditions and treatments, visit the CT Sinus Center website and blog.

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