Large masses of people. *shiver* They used to not bother me at all. Now I fear being a part of a crowd, especially indoors. The combination of cleaning chemicals used in commercial establishments, fragranced body care products, and laundry detergents and shampoos wafting through the air makes me fear for the next several days. Itchy, watery swollen eyes, itchy lips, and rashy arms and chest are just a few of the effects on my body. In most cases, I avoid these situations. Sometimes, though, the event is just too exciting to pass up, or I have to go. In these cases, I plan ahead.
Pre-Event, and the Day Before
The day before the big event, I rinse my sinuses with a neti pot and apply my topical medications (different ones for different parts of my body). I especially focus on the Protopic, because that lowers the immune system of my skin to prevent me having a reaction in the first place. I do it the day before for two reasons: I want to clear my sinuses beforehand and not on the day of the event (when I’ll suffer from too clear a nose), and I want to start preparing my body to not react beforehand. One of my medications can only be used once a day, and I want to make sure I can use it immediately after the event once I’ve showered, so the only possible time to treat beforehand is the day before.
Avoidance of Large Groups of People
I first start by trying to choose a slightly less busy time for my trip. If the event spans a long weekend, try going on a weekday. Sometimes there is no choice, in which case I grin and bear it.
Choice of Clothing, and The Day Of
I try to wear long sleeves when I’m going to be around a lot of people. I also don’t wear low-cut tops, and I put my hair into a ponytail. This keeps more of my skin and hair out of direct physical contact. My hair has been tricky, because although my hair covers more of my skin when it’s down, it also picks up airborne chemicals throughout the day, and rubs them against my skin. I use my non-prescription eye drops before entering the busy environment and sometimes every four hours when there (the recommended dosage).
I try not to enter thick crowds where I will be bumping into people right and left, sticking to the periphery whenever possible. I avoid touching hard and soft surfaces, and walk away from any heavy scents. I take my own soap, and wipe my hands on my clothing to dry. I take my own water.
After the Gathering or Event
I wash my hands as soon as possible, and then shower, apply creams and eye drops, and use the neti pot to rinse my sinuses. After the shower, I put on clean clothing. For the next 2-3 days, I make sure to use my medications as needed to treat any symptoms and prevent flares. This one’s hard for me, but I try to make sure I get enough sleep to allow my body to heal.
It looks crazy, on paper, to see that I do all that every time I go somewhere I expect to be around lots of people. I wish that my life didn’t require this, but the alternative is a rash that takes a long time to go away, so I do what I have to do.
What have you done to survive chemical allergies in large groups of people? Comment below.