Treating allergies

The treatment for an allergy depends on what you're allergic to. In many cases, your GP will be able to offer advice and treatment.

They'll advise you about taking steps to avoid exposure to the substance you're allergic to, andcan recommend medication to control your symptoms.

Avoiding exposure to allergens

The best way to keep your symptoms under control is often to avoid the things you're allergic to,although this isn't always practical.

For example, youmay be able to helpmanage:

  • food allergies by being careful about what you eat
  • animal allergies by keeping pets outside as much as possible and washing them regularly
  • mould allergies bykeeping your home dry and well-ventilated, and dealing with any damp and condensation
  • Seasonal allergic rhinitis bystaying indoors and avoiding grassy areas when the pollen count is high
  • dust mite allergies byusing allergy-proof duvets and pillows, and fitting wooden floors rather than carpets

Theycan be used:

  • as and when you noticethe symptoms ofan allergic reaction
  • to prevent allergic reactions for example, you may take them in the morningif you have hay fever and you know the pollen count is high that day

Antihistaminescan be takenas tablets, capsules, creams, liquids, eye drops or nasal sprays, depending on which part of your body is affected by your allergy.


Decongestants can be used as a short-term treatment for a blocked nose caused by an allergic reaction.

Theycan be taken as tablets, capsules, nasal sprays or liquids. Don't use them for more than a week at a time, as using them for long periods can make your symptoms worse.

Lotions and creams

Red and itchy skin caused by an allergic reaction can sometimes be treated with over-the-counter creams and lotions, such as:

  • emollients (moisturising creams) to keep the skin moist and protect it from allergens
  • calamine lotion to reduce itchiness
  • steroids to reduce inflammation (see below)


Steroid medications can help reduce inflammation caused by an allergic reaction.They're available as:

  • nasal sprays and eye drops for an inflamednose and eyes
  • creams for eczema and contact dermatitis
  • inhalers for asthma
  • tablets for hives (urticaria)

Sprays, drops and weak steroid creams are available without a prescription. Stronger creams,inhalers and tablets are available on prescription from your GP.

Immunotherapy (desensitisation)

Immunotherapy may be an option for a small number of people with certain severe and persistent allergies who are unable to control their symptoms using the measures above.

The treatment involves being given occasional small doses of the allergen either as an injection, or as drops or tablets under the tongue over the course of several years.

The injectioncan only be performed in a specialist clinic under the supervision of a doctor, as there is a small risk of a severe reaction. The drops or tablets can usually betaken at home.

The aim of treatment is to helpyour body get used to the allergen so it doesn't react to it so severely.This won't necessarily cureyour allergy, but it will make it milder and mean you can take less medication.

Treating severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis)

Some people with severe allergies may experience life-threatening reactions,known as anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock.

If you're at risk of this, you'll be given special injectors containing a medicine called adrenaline to use in an emergency.

If you develop symptoms of anaphylaxis, such as difficulty breathing, you should inject yourself in the outer thigh before seeking emergency medical help.


Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 30 Nov 2016