He answered some of my questions and gave me a few insights. I thought I'd share them here (and also so I can remember them).
Note: I'm only recording here what I remember which may not be accurate. Don't use this as any medical advice. Consult with your own doctor for your own situation.
- Tree pollen peaks in New Jersey usually in May and lasts about 4 weeks. It's a very steep and high peak. Some years it's spread over more weeks so not quite so intense all at one (usually if there is a warm April). Usually after June 1st, the tree pollens go to zero.
- Grass pollen has a more broad peak that is not as high. It also starts in May and hits it's height toward then end of May and continues a slow decline through June. It's usually fairly low in July and August and peaks again in September for a little while. Of course, if you have grass pollen allergies and spend time in the grass, it will be aggravated.
- Are allergies hereditary? They believe the propensity to become sensitive to allergens is hereditary. It's the exposure to the allergens that develops it. For Example: people with a propensity to latex allergies will develop the allergy if exposed to a lot of latex. Nurses usually get it about 3 years into nursing school if they have the propensity.
- Why does it seem that I'm more sensitive some years than others: It may have to do with the temperatures and how the pollen season is spread out or more concentrated. It may also be according to how much time you spend outside.
- Sometimes people get injections of allergens to reduce their sensitivity. The course is usually injections once a week for 6 months, then 6 months every other week. Sometimes it gradually wears off after a few years
- Skin has layers. The top layer protects from allergens. The second layer is like the rest of your membranes (inside nose for example). When the top layer is compromised (like in the dry Fall and winter), then the allergens can get to the 2nd layer and exacerbate the allergy reaction.
- Eczema comes in two ways: one is from environmental allergies, the other from chemical allergies. Chemical allergies are usually due to something touching the skin and so is somewhat random: according to what touched you somewhere. Environmental Allergies (allergies to dust and pollen for example) usually occurs in the same place and lasts for days or weeks. It is more common in the hands, and inner elbows and areas where the top layer of the skin gets rubbed off.
- Prescription cortisone creams usually should be used for a few days (3 to 5 days) and don't help if only used 1 time. Also, if they are used for a prolonged period, they will thin the skin and cause wrinkles. So, since facial skin is thin, it's probably not best to use them there.
- Dust Allergies: They found that every house they took samples, they found the same insect materials, it's just more prevalent in some houses than others
- Antihistamines are only one type of allergic response, so an antihistamine may not work for all situations. Usually for skin itching, a cream is best (see above) rather than an antihistamine.
- Colds can become extended by allergies. Allergies can be exacerbated by colds.
- I mentioned that we already have covers for our mattress and pillow cases. He said the pillow case allergy cover is most important because that's where you put your head.
- I asked why my eczema seems to be aggravated by certain dogs when I was shown to have no dog allergies. He said it may be something else on the dog, like dust or something else which I am allergic to. Dogs go outside, so I'm thinking maybe they can collect allergens too.
- My allergies are mild to medium, so allergy shots are not really mandatory