How Do Allergies Affect Your Hair and Scalp? We Asked an Expert.

Allergies are in full swing this spring. With flowers in bloom and pollen abound, the seasonal itching and sneezing has definitely set in. But seasonal allergies aren’t limited to common respiratory symptoms. This springtime suffering can affect your mane too. While this year’s March, April and May are a little unconventional, our strands and scalp are still feeling the effects of allergens in the air. We sat down with Dr. Nancy Samolitis, the co-founder and medical director of LA’s Facile Dermatology + Boutique to find out how to deal with these seasonal scalp and strand allergies.

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Scalp side effects are super common

While sneezing and sniffling are the most common allergy afflictions, your skin and scalp can suffer from seasonal irritation too. “Because allergies cause systemic inflammation, many skin conditions in particular eczema and seborrheic dermatitis (on the scalp) can flare up as well” Dr. Samolitis explains, “itching, flaking, and redness can occur on the scalp.”

Allergies can affect hair growth

Allergic reactions don’t stop at scalp conditions. If left untreated, seasonal allergies can have major effects on hair growth. According to Dr. Samolitis, hair growing in follicles affected by inflammation can be weakened, leading to breakage or, in serious cases, hair loss. Yikes. If you’re experiencing scalp allergies, you’ll want to treat them ASAP.

Your climate contributes to irritation

Climate also contributes to these tresse-stresses. “Dry climates can exacerbate dermatitis on the scalp because the skin is inflamed and can not hold onto excess water” says Dr. Samolitis. Humidity and extreme weather wreak havoc on your strands and skin, so it’s important to keep these weather-related irritants in mind during springtime.

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COVID isn’t exacerbating allergies- but it might have other effects

“The recent health crisis that we are enduring is primarily likely to result in a condition called telogen effluvium” Dr. Samolitis explains, “this is a common condition that is a result of the normal hair growth cycle slowing down due to stress or illness.” In the 3-6 month period following extreme stress, you may notice more hair falling out than usual. But there’s no need to panic just yet. According to Dr. Samolitis, this condition typically resolves itself over time. She recommends treating stress-related hair loss with hair-strengthening supplements.

Try an over-the-counter solution

Luckily, there’s a simple solution to this inflammation and itching: over-the-counter dandruff shampoo. But sometimes severe allergies require a little more attention. “If these are not effective, reach out to a board-certified dermatologist who can diagnose your specific condition and prescribe appropriate medications” Dr. Samolitis recommends. And there’s no need to wait until quarantine is over to address these issues. This type of visit can easily be done online via telemedicine.

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