Allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S., with an annual cost in excess of $18 billion. More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Backention .
You suffer from an allergic reaction when your body identifies a substance as harmful, even though it isn’t.
The harmful substances (allergens) mistakenly identified by the immune system can be anything from food to medication to environmental allergens. The immune system overreacts to these allergens and produces histamine, which is a chemical that causes allergy symptoms or an allergic reaction.
Normally, the immune system creates antibodies to fight off foreign substances so you don’t get sick.
An allergic reaction can cause mild symptoms related to different parts of your body that may include your airways, nose, skin, mouth and digestive system.
Some common allergens include airborne environmental allergens, animal saliva, insect stings/bites, food allergens, drug allergens and metal/chemical allergens.
Not everyone responds the same way to each allergen. But there are similar sets of symptoms most people experience when exposed to specific allergens.
For instance, an airborne allergen can cause symptoms like sneezing, itchy nose, runny/stuffy nose, coughing, skin rash/itchy skin, wheezing/shortness of breath and watery or red eyes.
Redness of the skin, rashes, a burning sensation, changes in skin color and swelling are common symptoms that indicate skin allergies.
You must not take allergic reactions lightly. In some people, allergies can lead to anaphylaxis, a life-threatening condition. It results in shock, a sudden drop in blood pressure and difficulty breathing. This can lead to respiratory failure and cardiac arrest. So, if you or someone you know is experiencing anaphylaxis, call for emergency medical care immediately.
For mild allergic reaction symptoms, there are several home remedies that can provide quick relief.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for allergic reactions.
1. Cold Bath or Cold Compress
An allergic reaction on the skin appears when you come in with a substance that the skin mistakes for a threat. It usually causes red, itchy rashes. The skin can sometimes feel warm to the touch.
To soothe the itching and red skin, nothing can be better than a cold bath or cold compress. The cold temperature will help shrink your blood vessels and prevent the histamine from coming out of the blood vessels. This in turn reduces the severity of the allergic reaction.
- Soak a soft washcloth in cold water and gently apply the compress on your rash for 15 to 30 minutes. You can repeat this process many times a day for relief.
- You can also take a cool water bath once or twice a day to reduce inflammation.
2. Saline Rinse
To deal with airborne allergens that can cause symptoms like sneezing, itchy nose, runny/stuffy nose and coughing, a saline rinse is a good remedy.
A saline rinse will help clear the nasal passages of allergens and irritants, which in turn will ease allergy symptoms. It also washes away bacteria, thins mucus and reduces postnasal drip.
A 2008 study published in the World Mycotoxin Journal reports that saline nasal irrigation is an effective adjunctive treatment for symptoms of chronic rhinosinusitis .
A 2012 study published in the American Journal of Rhinology & Allergy reports that saline nasal irrigation using an isotonic solution can be recommended as a complementary therapy in allergic rhinitis .
- Mix 1 teaspoon of salt into 2 cups of warm distilled water.
- Using a nasal bulb, pour a small amount of this solution into one nostril.
- Allow the solution to drain back out through the other nostril or through the mouth.
- Gently blow your nose to remove excess mucus and solution.
- Follow this same process with the other nostril.
- Repeat a couple of times daily.
Note: Wash the irrigation device after each use.
Garlic contains quercetin, which has anti-allergy, antiviral and gastro-protective activity. It alleviates allergy symptoms by stabilizing mast cell membranes and prevents release of inflammatory agents like histamine.
A 2012 study published in the International Journal of Food Science & Technology found that fresh, raw garlic was effective at suppressing the release of a substance called beta-hexosaminidase. The inhibition of this substance is an effective measure against allergic reactions .
Furthermore, garlic contains a good amount of vitamin C, which is well known as an immune system supporter.
- Chew 2 to 3 raw garlic cloves daily for 1 to 2 weeks to combat the various symptoms of allergic reactions.
- Another option is to boil 3 or 4 cloves of chopped garlic in 1 cup of water for 10 minutes. Strain it and add some honey. Drink it twice daily for at least 1 week.
- If you cannot bear garlic’s strong smell or taste, you can try garlic supplements after consulting your doctor.
Turmeric contains curcumin that has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions that greatly help relieve allergy symptoms.
It helps eradicate allergens from the body and provides quick relief from allergy symptoms. Plus, it improves immunity, which aids faster recovery.
A 2008 study published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research reports that curcumin has anti-allergic properties with an inhibitory effect on histamine release from mast cells. However, more research is needed to come to a final conclusion .
- Mix 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder into a glass of warm milk. Drink it twice daily.
- You can also use turmeric in your cooking, or take turmeric supplements but only after consulting your doctor.
Caution: If you take prescription blood thinners, consult your doctor before using turmeric remedies.
Ginger is another effective remedy that you should try to get relief from different types of allergic reaction symptoms. It works as a natural antihistamine and, in fact, it works better than antihistamine drugs at stopping inflammation.
It also has antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. It can help get rid of allergy-related symptoms like nasal congestion, a runny nose, a cough and a headache.
A 2016 study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found ginger to be effective in prevention or alleviation of allergic rhinitis symptoms .
- Add 1 tablespoon of grated ginger to 1 cup of water. Bring the water to a boil, then let it steep for 5 minutes. Strain it, and add a little raw honey and lemon juice. Drink this ginger tea 2 or 3 times daily during the allergy season.
- Also, chew small pieces of fresh ginger several times a day as well as including ginger in your cooking.
6. Stinging Nettle
Stinging nettle is highly effective for treating allergic reactions to different allergens.
Being a natural antihistamine, nettle blocks the body’s ability to produce histamine. It can provide quick comfort from symptoms like nasal congestion, coughing, sneezing and itching.
A 2009 study published in Phytotherapy Research reports that the bioactive compounds in nettle extract contribute to the inhibition of pro-inflammatory pathways related to allergic rhinitis .
- You can buy nettle leaf capsules and take 2 to 4 of them 2 or 3 times a day, but consult your doctor first.
- Alternately, drink a cup of nettle tea 2 or 3 times a day. To make the tea, add 1 tablespoon of dried stinging nettle leaf to a cup of hot water. Cover and let it steep for 5 minutes. Strain it, and add a little raw honey before drinking it.
Caution: Nettle is not recommended for pregnant women and young children.
7. Local Raw Honey
Having a jar of local honey at home can save you from allergy-related symptoms.
Local honey is effective for airborne allergens, due to the presence of bee pollen. It also desensitizes your body’s immune system to other pollens. Honey also contains many enzymes that support overall immune functions.
A 2013 study published in the Annals of Saudi Medicine reports that honey ingestion at a high dose improves the overall and individual symptoms of allergic rhinitis, and it could serve as a complementary therapy for allergic rhinitis .
- Eat 1 teaspoon of local honey twice daily.
- Alternatively, add 1 tablespoon of local honey and the juice of 1 lemon to a glass of lukewarm water. Mix well and drink it twice daily.
8. Apple Cider Vinegar
Another good remedy to deal with allergic reactions is apple cider vinegar.
Its antihistamine properties help relieve inflammation quickly and regulate the body’s immune system response. It also reduces allergy-related symptoms including itching, skin redness, sneezing, congestion, nasal drip and so on.
Plus, it helps restore an alkaline pH in the body, which helps the immune system function properly.
- Put a few drops of raw, organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar on a cotton ball and dab it all over the allergy-affected skin. Rinse it off after a few minutes. Do this at least twice a day for good results.
- Also, add 2 teaspoons of organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to a glass of warm water. Mix in 1 teaspoon of raw honey. Drink this twice daily.
9. Oatmeal Bath
Soaking the skin in an oatmeal bath can provide quick relief from allergic-related skin rashes.
It has anti-inflammatory as well as anti-irritating and soothing properties that help ease allergy symptoms like inflammation, redness, pain, itching and dry skin.
Being a humectant, it also helps moisturize the skin, and it contains inflammation-quelling compounds.
- Pour 1 cup of colloidal oatmeal into your bathtub filled with warm water.
- Add a few drops of lavender essential oil.
- Soak in it for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Rinse your body with lukewarm water, pat dry and generously apply a good moisturizer.
- Enjoy this relaxing bath a few times a week.
10. Oil Pulling
Oil pulling is closely associated with oral health. And it is also very effective for treating an allergic reaction. This ancient Ayurvedic technique helps draw out irritants from within your body that can lead to an allergic reaction.
Plus, oil pulling helps your immunity function properly.
- Put 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin coconut oil or sesame oil in your mouth.
- Swish the oil around in your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes, then spit it out.
- Rinse your mouth with warm water.
- Do this daily first thin in the morning, even before brushing your teeth.
Note: Do not swallow the oil, as it contains toxins.
- The best way to treat and prevent allergic reactions is to identify what triggers the reaction and stay away from it, especially food allergens.
- You can also take over-the-counter antihistamines to treat most minor allergic reactions, regardless of the cause. A person who is pregnant or has a liver disorder should consult their doctor before taking antihistamines.
- For skin rashes, apply olive oil on the affected area. Being rich in vitamin E and antioxidants, olive oil promotes healing and skin renewal.
- Regular application of aloe vera promotes healing and reduces the redness of the skin rashes.
- Dab some calamine lotion on allergy-affected skin, as this anti-itch medicine causes a soothing, cooling feeling and provides relief from itchiness.
- For chronically dry skin that leads to rashes, you can try a humidifier to add moisture to the air.
- Hydrocortisone cream can work well when the itchiness just won’t stop.
- Eat foods rich in vitamin C, as this vitamin works as a natural antihistamine. It also boosts your immune system.
- Seek immediate medical attention for chronic or severe allergic reactions, which include symptoms like swelling of the throat or changes in heart rate.
- Anaphylaxis should always be treated as a medical emergency.
- Gateway to Health Communication & Social Marketing Practice. Centers for Disease Control and Backention. https://www.cdc.gov/healthcommunication/toolstemplates/entertainmented/tips/Allergies.html. Published September 15, 2017.
- Nasal irrigation for chronic sinus symptoms in patients with allergic rhinitis, asthma and nasal polyposis: a hypothesis generating study. World Mycotoxin Journal. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2755042. Published April 2008.
- Nasal irrigation as an adjunctive treatment in allergic rhinitis: A systematic review and meta-analysis. American Journal of Rhinology & Allergy. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3904042. Published 2012.
- A comparative study on the antioxidative and anti‐allergic activities of fresh and aged black garlic extracts. Freshwater Biology. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2621.2012.02957.x. Published April 04, 2012.
- Immunomodulatory effects of curcumin in allergy. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18398870. Published September 2008.
- Backention of allergic rhinitis by ginger and the molecular basis of immunosuppression by 6-gingerol through T cell inactivation. Egyptian Journal of Medical Human Genetics. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0955286315002260. Published September 01, 2015.
- Nettle extract (Urtica dioica) affects key receptors and enzymes associated with allergic rhinitis. Phytotherapy Research. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19140159. Published July 2009.
- Ingestion of honey improves the symptoms of allergic rhinitis: evidence from a randomized placebo-controlled trial in the East coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Annals of Saudi Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24188941.