Allergies and Piercings
Spring is upon us! We are free of the cold, dreary months of winter, and it is time for the world to be reborn anew. Grass growing, trees becoming fully and green again, and flowers blossoming. For many, especially those who don’t enjoy the cold of winter, it’s a great time of year. But spring also brings with it delightful seasonal allergies. Millions of folks every year struggle with seasonal allergies, and spring is one of the worst seasons for it. Seasonal allergies can be uncomfortable, but worse than that they can cause irritations and issues for our piercings both fresh and healed. Today, let’s take a look at what causes seasonal allergies, and how they can effect our piercings.
What Causes Seasonal Allergies
The biggest culprit for your springtime sniffles is pollen. Plants like trees, grass, and weeds release teeny tiny grains into the air to fertilize other plants. This pollen is essential for growing all of the wounded plants and greenery we get each spring, but when we inhale pollen in our nose it sets off our bodies defenses. Our immune system view this pollen as harmful, and releases special antibodies to fight it off into our system. This leads to the release of histamines into our bloodstream, causing runny noses, watery and itchy eyes, all of everyones favorite seasonal allergy symptoms. Pollen can travel miles from where it’s released, and wind can help carry it even further. Even if you live in a low pollen area, wind and weather can still bring the allergies right to your doorstep.
Springtime isn’t the only season to struggle with allergies either. While trees finish their pollen production by mid to late spring, weeds are just getting started come summer. This means that folks who are more reactive to weeds such as ragweed and cockelweed can look forward to a continuation of their seasonal allergies thats to the pollen these plants produce. In fall, ragweed lets off pollen again at night thanks to cooling temperatures, persisting folks allergies into the fall season. Mold and dust mites, especially from the first time you turn on your heat, can also cause your allergies to stay flaring up.
Whatever your triggers and sensitivities are, it’s very likely that at some point during the year you will struggle with your bodies natural reaction to pollen and plants in the environment. Runny noses, watery eyes, sneezing, crouching, itchy eyes and nose, and sometimes skin irritation can all be ways these allergies present in different folks.
Fresh and Healing Piercings
If you suffer with allergies, you may find this time of year is not the best for getting certain new piercings. For most folks, nose piercings are the most effected. As you may imagine, a perpetually runny, itchy nose is not exactly an ideal situation for healing a nostril or septum piercing. Your nose regularly running can cause irritation and prolong healing, as can constantly blowing your nose or itching your nose. If you choose to get a new piercing at this time and you know you suffer with seasonal allergies, expect healing to take longer then initially planned. I would also say expect to deal with irritation bumps on and off on your piercing. I also suggest starting with very simple basic jewelry that is going to be easier to keep clean and care for. Going with a slightly thicker gauge for a nostril like 16g or a septum like 14/12g can also offer your piercing more stability for healing with regular nasal irritants. If it’s possible, waiting till a season where your allergies aren’t as bad is usually ideal. However, some folks struggle with allergies year round or would be unable to get to a piercing during the right season. If that’s the case you can still get pierced while dealing with seasonal allergies, just expect a longer and potentially more difficult healing process. Don’t forget to take medication to help minimize your allergies and issues as well. Please consult your primary phicision or an allergy specialist to see what type of medication is right for you.
Sadly, it’s not just new piercings that can be effected by seasonal allergies. A particularly bad bout of allergies can cause your existing piercings to flare up. This is again most common with nasal piercings but can happen with oral piercings and very rarely ear and body piercings. The inside of your nose piercing may feel irritated and tender, especially if you are blowing your nose often. The outside may feel itchy ot deal with irritation bumps. If your piercing is fully healed and allergies are causing things to flare up, the best thing you can do is manage your allergies to try to minimize the irritation, and baby the piercing. Temporarily swapping to simpler, easier to clean jewelry can be a great choice. Many clients choose to trad ether hoop for a stud and their big decorative ends for simple beads and discs to make allergy season more bearable. Treating the piercing like it’s new again with extra care and cleaning can also be very beneficial.
A Note on Nasal Sprays
Any time I discuss allergies with my clients the invariable followup question is “I use a nasal medication for my allergies- can I safely do that with my nostril/septum/etc?” And the answer is yes! You can totally still use nasal spray based medications with a healed or fresh nose piercing. For healed piercings it’s usually just business as usual, spray your medicine and go about your day. If you find that residue from the medication is collecting on the jewelry and causing issues, you can always clean the piercing after using the spray. For fresh piercings, you do want to be a little more gentle. I suggest very gently inserting the nasal spray up past where your nostril or septum sit, and spraying from there. The emphasis here is on being gentle, as roughly banging or catching your piercings with your nasal spray is honestly often more of a source of irritation then the spray itself. And just like with healed piercings if you find the spray is collecting on the jewelry and causing irritation you can always take some folded cause or a tip soaked in saline and use that to gently clean the inside of the piercing after using your spray.
Allergy season is no fun for anyone. I personally struggle with very bad spring and fall allergies and short of putting myself in a Benadryl coma, I’m just snuffly and sneezy for a few weeks. It only adds insult to injury that even my decades old septum piercing will sometimes get irritated on top of my awful allergies! Hopefully this blog post can help you make informed decision about when you get new piercings, especially nasal piercings, come allergy season. And hopefully these tips will help you navigate dealing with your allergies along with your piercings. Happy Healing!