Is there anything more annoying than a summer cold? Well, yes, actually: summer allergies. And there's a decent chance that what you think is a cold is actually a reaction to allergens, especially if it lasts a suspiciously long time, like two weeks (or two months).
Summer allergies can be just as harsh as other seasons', and in some cases, their effects can be even more apparent, both to you and to people looking at you.
“Symptoms aren’t always limited to the hallmark sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes," explains Dr. Michael Foggs, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, who, much to the dismay of anyone who's fond of their face just the way it is, says allergies can cause cosmetic symptoms.
If the blood vessels beneath your skin get congested enough, they can cause discoloration and swelling that go beyond your typical dark circles (and look like you've decided to become a really bad boxer). When allergies are this extreme, eye creams and concealers are practically useless.
If you tend to rub your nose upward when it's stuffed up and itchy, doing it a lot can cause a crease across the bridge that lasts long past the act of rubbing. Yep, allergies can cause a nose wrinkle. (Don't tell cosmetics companies, though; a nose-cream shelf will inevitably pop up under the eye-cream shelf.)
Allergies can cause your adenoids to swell; those are the lymph tissues that line the back of the throat and extend behind the nose. In addition to making you look tired, this can actually cause your face to appear saggy.
Put 'em all together and you get...
So, what can you do about it?
If you need fast relief and you're confident that your symptoms are being caused by environmental allergens that are largely out of your control--like mold, pollen, and insect stings--you can turn to over-the-counter antihistamines.
However, when it comes to prevention, you may want to consider a lesser-known and otherwise healthy-seeming suspect: fruits and vegetables.
"Fresh produce, such as celery, apples and melons, can also cause allergy symptoms," the ACAAI reports. "This is known as food pollen syndrome, cross-reacting with allergens found in both pollen and raw fruits, vegetables and some tree nuts."
Ultimately, if you're not sure what the hell is making your face freak out, your best bet is to visit an allergist. They can pinpoint which allergens are causing your symptoms and give you the best plan of action so you can recognize your face in the mirror again.
Have you ever experienced extreme allergy symptoms on your face? How did you handle it?