Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Why do I have Itchy Water Blisters on My Hands and Feet?

Summer and warm weather bring oh so much fun!  Everyone wants to catch up, vacation and spend as much time outside as possible.  For some though, the warm weather causes the recurrence of itchy water filled blisters appearing on their hands and feet.  These blisters look like grains of tapioca coming out of the skin.  The itch can be intense! And can cause many sleep disturbance, social embarrassment and disruption.  Symptoms start with intense burning and itching on the hands and feet.  Scratching will cause the appearance of water blisters underneath the skin.  Skin can be red and wet appearing.  Symptoms without treatment last about 3-4 weeks and then reoccur. 

What Are These Itchy Water Filled Blisters?
·       For most these water filled blisters are caused by a form of eczema called dyshidrotic eczema.
·       Other causes may be from fungal infection and other autoimmune diseases and should be evaluated by an allergist or other physician.

 Taken from http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1122527-overview

Taken from http://images.medicinenet.com/images/slideshow/eczema-atopic-dermatitis-s13-photo-of-dyshidrotic-eczema.jpg

Who's Affected by Dyshidrotic Eczema?
·       About 50% of persons with dyshidrotic eczema will have a history of other allergic diseases like eczema, and allergies in the nose, eyes, or/or asthma
·       It affects men and women equally.
·       First episodes typically start anywhere from the 20’s to 40’s and reoccur each spring/summer
What Causes Dyshidrotic Eczema?
·       Causes are varied:
o   dysfunction of the sweat gland on the hands and feet
o   chemical allergy to metals (nickel allergy, cobalt allergy), and products like Balsam of Peru, preservatives and sunscreens we use just during the warmer months
o   Exposure to sun can trigger the onset of symptoms.
o   Stress can also bring out blisters.

Is There Treatment for Dyshidrotic Eczema?
·        Treatment depends on the cause of symptoms.
o   Evaluation for chemical allergy and/or other environmental triggers should be done by an Allergist
o   Evaluation for possible food allergy by an Allergist
o   Evaluation for potential fungal and/or bacterial infection
·        Avoidance of offending agent is key in prevent.  Topical use of corticosteroids, topical antibiotics, and/or UV light therapy may be helpful in prevention. 

Do you need help with your dyshidrotic eczema?  Please book book an appointment with Dr. Jennifer Collins for specific advice

Want more information? Check out the  National Eczema Association

Monday, June 22, 2015

Insect Allergy- What You Need to Know.

 Spending times outdoors this season is such a pleasure, but being bitten by insects can put a damper outside activities.
This is what you need to know now to protect yourself from reactions to insects.
What are signs and symptoms of an insect bite?
·       Pain, swelling and redness confined to the sting site
·       Intense itching at the site.
·       In severe cases, insect bites can cause severe allergic reactions that can result in death.
When Should You Be Worried about An Insect Sting?  
·       There are 3 types of reactions an insect can cause:  a local reaction, a large, local reaction and a systemic allergic reaction.
·       A normal local reaction will result in pain, swelling and redness confined to the sting site.
·       A large local reaction will result in swelling well beyond the sting site. For example, a sting on the forearm could cause the whole arm to swell - a condition that usually peaks two to three days after the sting and can last a week or more.
·       A systemic allergic reaction is the most serious and requires medical attention. Symptoms of a systemic allergic reaction can range from mild to severe.
·       If you’re worried at all, seek immediate medical advice.

What’s Most Likely to Bite Us?
·       Mosquitos, fleas, chiggers, and bed bugs- most likely will cause a local allergic reaction.
·       Wasps, yellow jackets, hornets, and bees are the cause of the majority of insect stings- sting insects that can cause a local and/or total body allergic reaction.  About 3 out of 100 adults have severe allergy to flying insects resulting in potentially deadly reaction. 
·       Fire Ants (red or black) - extend from the southern US up into NY.  Bites from these insects typically cause a blistering reaction.
How Can you Prevent Insect Stings/Bites?
  • Always wear shoes when walking in the grass. Many bees burrow in the ground and you can unsuspectingly step into their nest.
  • Wear bug sprays like Off or Deet.  Wary of harsh chemicals?  Geraniums and citronella are natural mosquito propellants.
  • Don’t drink from open soft drink cans; stinging insects are attracted to them and may crawl inside.
  • Cover food when eating outside.
  • Don’t use sweet-smelling perfume, hairspray or deodorant.
  • Avoid wearing brightly colored clothing with flowery patterns.
  • Protect your legs, arms and body with long pants/long-sleeved shirts when working outside.
  • Use caution near bushes, attics and picnic areas. 
How can you Treat Insect Bites?
Local and large local reactions can most likely be treated with OTC anti-histamines and topical steroids.  Some large local reactions will need medical care.
Systemic allergic reactions ALWAYS require medical attention.  Lifesaving epinephrine may be administered.  If you have a reaction, seek treatment from an allergist.  They have treatment that can potentially you of your insect sting.   

Need more help or have questions?  Schedule anappointment here.

Want more information?

Monday, May 4, 2015

Can Pollen Cause Food Allergies?

Spring not only brings out beautiful flowers, but the produce in the grocery stores and farmers markets looks so delicious.  Fresh fruits and vegetables for some are cause for fear.  Biting into them causes small water filled blisters and itchy lips.

Is it Possible that Pollen Can Cause Food Allergies?  

  • Nature uses similar patterns over again as building blocks.  Patterns similar on various pollens look like proteins that are also present on fruits and vegetables.  Direct contact with these patterns say when biting into for example, a fresh apple, may cause a local reaction.  
  • This is called oral allergy syndrome or pollen-food syndrome

What are Typical Cross Reacting Pollens and Foods?

Birch Pollen:  Apples, almonds, carrot, peanut, carrot, celery, cherry, hazelnut, kiwi, peach, pear, and plum

Grass Pollen- celery, melon, oranges, peaches, and tomato

Ragweed- banana, cucumber, melons, sunflower seeds and zucchini

What Are Symptoms of Oral Allergy Syndrome?

  • Itchy mouth, scratchy throat or localized swelling of lips, tongue, or throat
  • Itchy ears
  • Symptoms localized to the area of contact
How Do you Diagnose Oral Allergy Syndrome?

  • See your allergist.  Food allergies can be dangerous and lead to life threatening events.  You want to be sure that you have oral allergy syndrome and not a true food allergy.
  • You may need epinephrine and/or other allergy medication.  Your allergist will be able to help determine a specific anaphylaxis plan.  
  • Want to be evaluated for oral allergy syndrome?  Book an appointment here.   Gramercy Allergy and Asthma is located near Union Square at 205 East 22nd Street New York, NY 10010

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Can Allergies Cause My Headaches?

When headaches strike, most of us run through a list of typical causes and reach for some ibuprofen for quick relief.  But what if you have allergies?  Should you be reaching for allergy treatment to get headache relief instead?  

Millions of people suffer from allergies and don't even know it. Identifying headache triggers is an important tool in the prevention of headaches.  Patients commonly complain of symptoms of facial pain and pressure, eye pain, and in increase in headaches in the spring.  These are typical signs of a sinus headache.  Many have missed an obvious important environmental trigger for their pain - pollen and other environmental triggers.
How Can Allergies Cause Sinus Headaches?

Picture of the Human Sinuses

  • Sinus cavities are hollow spaces with openings to the nose allow the flow of air and mucous into the nose.
  • Cavities are located over the cheeks (maxillary sinuses), forehead (frontal sinuses), and over/between eyebrows (sphenoid and ethmoid sinuses) (See above diagram).
  • Breathing in breathing in pollen, pet dander, dust, and other allergic triggers can trigger localized inflammation in the sinus cavities
  • Allergic inflammation can trigger pain and pressure in the corresponding area face.
  • Allergic inflammation triggers localized swelling in the sinuses that disrupts normal blood flow and drainage of blood and mucous. 
  • This buildup of pressure causes pain and allergic inflammation known as allergic sinusitis.  
What are Signs of Sinus Headaches Caused by Allergies?
  • Chronic pain and tenderness over the cheeks, forehead, and area between or behind the eyes.
  • Stuffy nose, sneezing, ear pain or pressure, ear fullness, or facial swelling
  • Loss of smell
  • Post nasal drip
  • Triggers of seasonal variation, for example, a headache you get every spring, fall, or with exposure to cleaning.
  • Have other diseases triggered by allergies like asthma, eczema, or allergies in your nose or eyes?  Allergic diseases tend to run together.  If you're an "allergic" person, then allergies in your sinuses might be triggering your allergies.
  • Suspect you're an allergic person, but aren't sure?  Take this easy quiz How Do I Know If I Have Allergies?
How Can You Treat Sinus Headaches?
  • If you suffer from headaches, see your primary doctor for a complete evaluation.
  • Suspect you have headaches triggered by uncontrolled allergies?  See an allergist to get tested to identify potential allergic triggers.
  • An allergist will be able to help formulate a specific plan that will include:
    • avoidance measures, 
    • direct medications and 
    • possibly offer allergy shots (a way to desensitize you to your allergic triggers)
  • Want more information on headaches?  Learn more at Allergies and Headaches or The National Headache Foundation.
Have more specific questions for me?  Schedule an appointment here.

Monday, March 9, 2015

How Can You Be Prepared for New York's Spring Allergy Season?

How Can You Be Prepared for New York's Spring Allergy Season?

The arrival of spring is on everyone's mind after all of the snow and bitter cold temperatures we've had this past winter.  Longer days and more sunlight will soon trigger tree's to start pollinating.  Tree pollen in New York is potent and causes many to suffer from symptoms of itchy watery eyes, runny nose, sinus headaches, and cold like symptoms.

What Can You Do to Be Prepared for New York's Spring Allergy Season?

Here are 5 simple tips to keep you feeling great this spring season.

Get Tested
Knowing what you’re allergic to and what triggers your symptoms is the first step to avoiding the offending pollen.  There are many non-medical ways of avoiding allergens. 

Start Medications Early
Your allergist will help you create a plan of when to start medications, and which medications work quickly. Taking allergy medications early and as directed can prevent you from developing severe symptoms that can interfere with your work, school and life. 

Rock a Hollywood Look
Always pack and use sunglasses this spring.  Glass help protect your eyes from airborne pollens and dust.  This will help stop itchy watery eyes without the use of medications.

Change Your Routine
Showering at night will help wash away airborne tree pollens off your hair so you aren’t carrying them into your bed at night. 

Spring Board Your Exercise Routine For the Beach Season
Tree pollens are highest in the morning.  Change your exercise routine from morning to evening to help naturally decrease your exposure to tree pollen.

Want more specific advice on surviving New York’s Allergy Season?  Visit our website http://www.gramercyallergy.com or click here to schedule an appointment online.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

7 Fun Ways to celebrate Valentines Day Allergy free this year!

Celebrating Valentine's Day with someone who's allergic can be challenge.  Here are a few tips to help you have a fun allergy free Valentines Day.  You'll be spreading love, not allergies!

1. Eat Chocolate!
Want to surprise your loved one with chocolate? Go for a dark one! Dark chocolate is filled with flavanoids, strong anti-oxidant chemicals that help to reduce inflammation. Dark chocolate is milk free making it a perfect gift if your loved one is allergic.
2. Play!
When you have a partner, you have an instant playmate. Take advantage of it and organize a game of indoor tennis, hit the gym, take a dance class, or go for a romantic walk. More and more evidence points to the role of exercise in keeping not only your body fit, but your immune system functioning at it's peak performance.
3. Relax!
Thinking of doing something special for loved one? Try a massage. Use mineral oil to prevent an allergic reaction if your partner has sensitive skin.  Physical affection helps to decrease cortisol levels, a key hormone that leads to inflammation.

4. Kiss!
 Did you know that food proteins can be transferred in the saliva causing an unwanted allergic reaction. To prevent a kiss from being dangerous, avoid foods that might trigger a reaction in your partner.  If there's no food allergies, then go ahead and give your loved one a kiss. It's can be the perfect allergy free gift.
5. Give Flowers!
Roses, tulips daffodils and orchids are some of the least allergenic flowers. Stay away from daisies, goldenrod, sunflowers, chamomile, and chrysanthemums.  They are among the worst. 
6. Cook!
Cook a meal filled with fresh fruits and vegetables. You’ll know exactly what the ingredients are in the meal.  Use a rainbow of different ingredients and colors to include key vitamins like C, D, E, A, and Zinc that are vital for you immune systems function. Here are tips on Allergy Free meals

7. Quit!
Do you smoke? Tobacco smoke is linked with increases in upper respiratory illnesses, asthma exacerbations, and ear infections. Make quitting your ultimate gift for your loved ones! Need tips?  Quit Here! NYS Smoke Free

Above all else, have fun this Valentine’s day with your partner and show those around you how much you love and appreciate them!
Need more ideas?  Visit Gramercy Allergy And Asthma or book an appointment here.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

How Do You Know If You Have Allergy, Asthma or Eczema?

Allergies, asthma and eczema (skin allergy) affect millions of people and many don't even know they have allergy.  What are signs?  A stuffy nose when you sleep at night, constantly blowing your nose,  always being itchy or a nighttime cough are just a few of the symptoms that indicate you might have allergies, asthma, and/or eczema.

Here are some other questions to ask yourself to help determine if you have allergy.

1) Do you cough or have trouble breathing when you walk, do simple chores or go outside in the cold?

2) Do you avoid exercise or taking part in sports like jogging, soccer, swimming or aerobics because you have trouble breathing or cough?

3) Do you have trouble sleeping through the night because of a dry cough or shortness of breath?

4) Do pets, dust or pollen make your breathing more difficult?

5) Do you dread the change of season because you know you'll get a cold and/or sinus infection?

6) Do your eyes itch, get red or puffy?

7) Does a cold often go into your chest and leave a lingering dry cough?

8) Do you get frequent rashes or are always itchy?

9) Do you have sneezing attacks?

10)  Does tobacco smoke or strong odors make you cough?

If you answered yes to more than 2 questions, you  are likely have allergy.  See an allergist to get tested and determine exactly what is triggering your symptoms and how you can avoid it.  Allergies are treatable.

Need help?  Visit our website www.gramercyallergy.com or click here to schedule an appointment.