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Reactions to pet dander: What should I know?

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Pet dander can trigger allergic symptoms that range from mild to severe. Avoidance of animals is often the most effective approach in preventing an allergic reaction. In case animals could not be avoided, there are available treatment options. The symptoms of allergy to pet dander strikingly resemble hay fever.

What are the indications?

For mild reactions to pet dander, the usual indications include:

  • Itchy, watery or reddened eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Tickling sensation in the back part of the throat or roof of the mouth
  • Itchy nose
    Aside from the respiratory signs, a reaction of the skin which is called as allergic dermatitis might occur.

The significant reactions to animal dander include:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Thick drainage of mucus down the back of the throat
  • Sinus pain and pressure
  • Coughing
  • Frequent waking
  • Bluish discoloration under the eyes

Remember that it is not unusual for the symptoms to start as mild and become severe if the individual is continued to be exposed to pet dander.

Aside from the respiratory signs, a reaction of the skin which is called as allergic dermatitis might occur. Oftentimes, the rash is made of hives or elevated, reddened patches of skin along with itchiness.

What are the sources?

Pet dander is present in the animal skin cells, urine or saliva. Both dogs and cats shed their skin and hair cells wherever they go. The reactions can be triggered by these animals and less frequently by other animals.

It is important to note that licking is a common practice among animals when cleaning themselves. The saliva from the tongue can leave pet dander on fur that is shed.

Management of pet dander reactions

Regular vacuuming can help lessen pet dander but it is not likely to fully eliminate the allergen. It might take several weeks for the allergens to die down in the house. Most individuals who are highly sensitive are required to live without having any pets or use an antihistamine every day.

Antihistamines work by disrupting the release of histamine which is triggered by pet dander. As for cases that involve skin symptoms, you should wash the saliva off and apply an antihistamine cream. Other commonly used treatment options include corticosteroids, decongestants and nasal irrigation using saline solution.

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