18th June this year is International Picnic Day - time to enjoy the outdoors, whether you go to the countryside, your local park or (if you're lucky enough to have one) your own garden.
Picnics were first popularised in France at the end of the eighteenth century, as the French Revolution introduced the idea of public parks. But now they are universally embraced, with different cultures customising their own traditions and cuisine. The Scotch Egg is a British example, developed for upper class travellers in the nineteenth century!
Not all of us leap with joy at the idea of spending all day in nature, especially if we are allergic to pollen or have eczema or another itchy skin condition.
There is in fact a large correlation between people who have eczema and those who suffer from hay fever. It's estimated that up to 80% of people who had eczema as children develop hay fever or asthma when they are adults.
So before you dig out your rug and prepare your picnic, we thought we'd prepare a list of things that can help pollen-proof your day, protect your skin and make it all more enjoyable:
1) Check the pollen forecast
Pollen levels can be as erratic as the weather. Take a look at the forecast and see if your plans can be made to fit around the peak days. As unfair as it sounds, if the pollen count is really high and your hay fever symptoms are severe, it might be best to stay indoors. But remember, you may not be allergic to all kinds of pollen and different types appear at different times of the year. Tree pollen is usually late March - mid May; grass pollen is mid May - July and weed pollen is late June - September.
There are a few options if you look online - we quite like this handy one from Kleenex
2) Wear sunglasses
Sunglasses can prevent pollen getting to the eyes and making them itch and weep. Wraparound sunglasses are often the most effective, as they fit snugger to the face acting as a barrier to the delicate eye area. They also have the added benefit of protecting your eyes from the sun’s rays from all angles, something to be particularly mindful of for those of us with sensitive skin.
3) Protect your nose and face
If you can stop pollen getting into your nose, this will help stop hay fever symptoms. One way to do this is by applying Vaseline around your nostrils to trap the pollen. Otherwise, a cotton face mask can help. We've got just a few of our kids face masks left so get one while you can.
4) Avoid the sun
Sun damage is bad for all skins, especially those who have eczema. Avoid the direct sun between 11am-3pm and pack a large umbrella with your picnic kit to create some shade.
By keeping your skin covered and protected, this will also alleviate the headache of choosing which SPF will suit your sensitive skin best.
5) Keep cool
Heat exacerbates eczema, so think about ways you can factor some cool into your day outdoors. Take a small fan, lots of cold water and some spare clothes in a cool box (like our open hand mitten T for kids in the back of the car on the way home), ready to change into.
6) Shower when you get home!
Often it's not possible to prevent picking up pollen if you're sitting outside, but you can avoid bringing it home with you. Shake out your clothes and picnic rug before you get inside, and rub down any equipment with a damp cloth. Jump into a shower straight away to get rid of any pollen that's on you, especially focusing on your hair. Rinse and repeat for all your family members, including the four-legged variety.
We hope these tips help you brave the fresh air – just being outside is now acknowledged widely as being good for our mental and physical wellbeing. So, try to enjoy your day, have fun and a delicious picnic!
If you do suffer from allergies, either hay fever or some other variety, do come and find us at the Allergy / Free From Show taking place in London's Excel Centre between Friday 1st - Sunday 3rd July. NB. Tickets are free!
We'll be taking a stand (A304) alongside lots of other companies and organisations that focus on allergy prevention and care. We'd love to see you there!
The Cotton Comfort Team
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