Easter is a great excuse to spend time with loved ones – and that includes our furry friends too!
However allergies and asthma mean that not everybody enjoys spending time around animals.
In the UK, pets follow dust as the second largest cause of allergy within the home.
Any animal with fur can be the cause of an allergic reaction - but the worst offenders are cats and dogs.
It doesn’t matter if you have previously had a pet and were not allergic to it before, pet allergies can develop at any time.
It often surprises people that pet allergies are not caused by an animal’s fur.
The allergens are found in animals’ saliva, sweat and urine. Once the saliva dries, it becomes airborne easily.
Saliva, urine and sweat dry easily on an animal’s fur and skin, which is then shed around the house, and onto clothing.
Symptoms include frequent sneezing, a runny or blocked nose, itchy, red or watery eyes, irritated skin and a cough.
Patients who have eczema or asthma are more likely to suffer from allergies.
If these patients find their allergies are being troublesome, often their chest or skin will flare up also.
In my experience as a GP, many cases can be controlled using simple over-the-counter medication.
However for more severe cases, repeat prescription antihistamines may be offered.
You should also take steps to reduce sufferers’ exposure to allergens, especially young children.
* Regularly groom your dogs outside
* Wash animals and their bedding at least once a week
* Remove carpets from the rooms animals frequently
* Open windows or use air filters to ventilate your house
* Don’t allow pets to lick the hands or face
* Wash hands after petting an animal, especially before eating or touching the face – use hand wipes if you’re out and about.
:: Dr. Alexandra Phelan is an NHS GP and Online Doctor for Pharmacy2U. Manage your repeat prescriptions by going to www.pharmacy2u.co.uk/NHS