COVID-19 & a Summer Like No Other: Tips for Allergy & Asthma Safety

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By Dr. David M. Anmuth, Pediatric Lung & Allergy Center

Locally, most communities have altered or canceled their 4th of July events this year. In addition, most camps and possibly summer vacations have been postponed. It’s a time to become more creative in our planning. However, if you or your children suffer from allergies or asthma, being safe is always of paramount importance.

Here are some tips to make the Summer of COVID fun, but also healthy:

1. Masks
When out in public, for any reason, wear a mask.

2. Avoid Crowds & Smoke
When trying to stay safe from COVID-19, it is best to avoid anything resembling a crowd, whether it is for fireworks or the local parade.

Large groups of people can mean close contact, which allergy and asthma sufferers are better off without. In general, smoke is a problem for those with asthma. So, in addition to fireworks, it may be best to steer clear of campfires as well.

3. Changes in Temperatures Can Cause a Change in Symptoms
July is usually warm, but there are potential temperature changes that may induce an asthma attack.

Going from steamy heat outdoors to a cold, air-conditioned building or jumping into a cold pool or lake could trigger asthma symptoms. It is always best to check the ozone level and air quality before outdoor activities. Unfortunately, indoor exercise may be a better option on a hot, humid day when the ozone concentration is high.

4. Stinging Insects
Bees, wasps, hornets, and other stinging insects love the heat of the summer.

Picnics are especially troublesome. It is best to always wear shoes when walking in the grass where stinging insects look for food. Soft drinks should be covered when possible since flying insects love open cans and containers.

If an epinephrine auto-injector (EAI) has been prescribed, it is recommended to always carry two and to make certain that a responsible person has been instructed on its use. Epinephrine is the first line of defense against a severe allergic reaction and can be lifesaving.

5. Pools & Chlorine
Although chlorine isn’t an allergen, it is an irritant that can cause itching of the eyes and nose.

Chlorine can also cause those with asthma to have difficulty breathing. Usually, washing the affected area with clean water is helpful, but sometimes a corticosteroid cream may be necessary.

If a rescue albuterol inhaler is prescribed, it is best to always have on hand, and in some cases, pre-treating prior to known exposure can be helpful. Outdoor pools are usually better tolerated than indoor ones due to better air circulation.

6. How About Sunscreen?
Not all sunscreens are created equal, and what works for one person may not work for another.

Finding the right product can be complicated, especially for those with sensitive or eczema affected skin. It is best to look for a product with mineral-based ingredients such as titanium dioxide (TiO2) and zinc oxide (ZnO). Make sure the product offers protection from both UVA and UVB rays. An SPF of 30 or greater that is alcohol-free is recommended.

If allergy and asthma symptoms are keeping your family from summer fun, please call the Pediatric Lung & Allergy Center (links and contact info below) and make an appointment with their board-certified Allergists and Pulmonologists. The Fairfax Neonatal Associates’ Pediatric Lung & Allergy Center’s goal is to help provide you with a life with minimal restrictions.

The content in this blog post is adapted from the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, and the National Eczema Association.

Fairfax Neonatal Associates’ Pediatric Lung & Allergy Center (PLAC) provides comprehensive care to infants and children needing allergy and immunology diagnoses and treatment. PLAC pediatric specialists provide a wide range of evaluations and testing for allergens, immune and lung function, oral food challenges, and more — all leading to individualized treatment plans with your child’s pediatrician.

Learn more about Dr. David M. Anmuth, this post’s author here, and all of Fairfax Neonatal Associates’ providers here. Connect with Fairfax Neonatal Associates’ Pediatric Lung & Allergy Center online, or by calling your preferred location, including Leesburg, VA (703-289-1410) and Fairfax, VA (703-289-1410).

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