Pollen be gone: How to dodge summer's hayfever hell
As the pollen count rises, it's a tough time for people with allergies. Kate Whiting sources top tips to keep symptoms at bay
The sunshine has finally popped out to say hello to everyone, but so too have the weeds, the trees and the grasses with all their sneeze-inducing pollen, just wafting around in the warm summer breeze.
For Britain's 16 million hay fever sufferers, this time of year can be an actual headache, not to mention the streaming nose, red, itchy eyes and blocked ears that usually strike too.
But by taking some simple steps, anyone experiencing hay fever symptoms should be able to manage the condition and make the most of the long, hot summer too.
Help manage hay fever with these tricks and tips from Allergy UK...
Check the forecast: Monitor pollen forecasts daily and stay indoors wherever possible when the count is high (generally on warmer, dry days). Rain washes pollen from the air, so pollen counts should be lower on the cooler, wetter days.
Stay off the grass: Limit the time you spend in rural areas. Sea breezes blow pollen inland, so escape to the coast instead.
Wash it away: Use a saline nasal wash to remove all the pollens and allergens.
Put up barriers: Make sure you apply an effective allergen barrier balm around the edge of each nostril to trap or block pollens and other allergens and help prevent a reaction. Allergen barriers are available as balms or gel nasal sprays, and some people have even found that petroleum jelly can help.
Get yourself in a spin: On high pollen days, shower and wash your hair after arriving home and change your clothing.
Keep the windows closed: If you are indoors, make sure that you shut the windows. This is most important in the early mornings, whenever pollen is being released, and again in the evening, when the air cools and pollens that have been carried up into the air begin to fall back to ground level once again.
Purify your air: If you suffer symptoms indoors, a good air filter should help. Choose one that is proven to trap even small particles (see www.allergyuk.org website for lists of approved air filters).
Ditch the garden chores: Avoid mowing lawns or raking leaves yourself. If you must perform these tasks, use a filtration face mask.
Keep your eyes covered: Wear wraparound sunglasses when outdoors to keep pollen allergens out of your eyes.
Reach your peak: A hat with a peak or large brim can help keep pollens from your eyes and face.
Be clever with your clothes drying: Avoid drying washing on a clothes-line outside when pollen counts are high.
Ride in comfort: Pollen counts tend to be high along roads with grass verges (dual-carriageways, motorways). So keep car windows closed and the air intake on 're-circulate' when driving. Choose a car that is fitted with an effective pollen filter, or get an in-car air filter.
Buy make-up that won't irritate you: Choose hypo-allergenic eye make-up, especially in mascaras.
Puppy power: Don't let pets get close to your face, as they can carry pollen in their fur. Wipe pets' coats with a damp microfibre cloth to remove pollens when they have been out.
Swim sensibly: Use goggles when swimming, whether in the sea or in a pool.