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    Allergies: Your Top Questions Answered

    What’s a Pollen Count?

    Every day from spring to fall the weatherman gives this report. It measures the amount of pollen in the air. The numbers might include mold spores and three types of pollen: grasses, trees, and weeds. The count covers grains per square meter of air collected over 24 hours. It’s translated into a corresponding level: absent, low, medium, or high.

    If the count is low, you probably won’t have a problem unless you’re crazy sensitive to pollen. If you have some problems with it, then a medium reading means you’ll probably have a few sniffles. A high count translates to grab the tissue box.

    The count can help you plan outdoor activities. If you’re really sensitive, you might want to stay indoors on a high pollen count day. But you should be OK on low and maybe even medium days.

    If I Move, Will My Allergies Go Away?

    No. Moving won’t cure allergies or symptoms. You’re likely to be allergic to pollen from plants in the new area.

    What Does "Hypoallergenic" Mean?

    "Hypo" means under or less than, so it’s a product that’s less likely to trigger an allergic reaction.

    Many things we use every day, like cleansers, soaps, deodorants, makeup, and even mouthwash, have ingredients that can trigger a skin allergy. When you expose your skin to these ingredients -- most often fragrances and chemicals used as preservatives -- you can get contact dermatitis. It starts as red areas that itch and swell. Some people get rashes or blisters.

    If you see "hypoallergenic" on the label, it means the product doesn’t have those things in it. But manufacturers don’t have to prove that claim. There are no regulations or standards for them to follow.

    Using hypoallergenic products makes a reaction less likely, but nothing can guarantee it will never irritate your skin or trigger an allergy. Test anything new before you use it, especially if you have had skin reactions before. Dab a little on your inner wrist or elbow and wait. You should know how it affects you within 24 hours.

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