How To Treat 'Allergy Face,' According To Our Dermatologist

When warm weather rolls around and the pollen count begins to climb, do you deal with skin problems that seem to strike out of the blue? Does your complexion suddenly go from calm to itchy and inflamed? You may be dealing with a vague constellation of skin problems sometimes referred to as "allergy face."

As it turns out, skin problems are more common in people with seasonal allergies. This paves the way for allergy face, a reactive yet mysterious condition that begins with exposure to pollen and cascades through your daily routine like a nasty line of dominoes, making your skin extra sensitive to every potential irritant it meets. It can even cause reactions to products that don't bother your skin during other times of the year. But what's behind your skin's seasonal overreaction, and how can you effectively transition your skincare routine into spring to address these issues?

To learn more about allergy face, we spoke exclusively to Dr. Charles Puza, who goes by Dr. Charles on Instagram and TikTok. Dr. Charles is a board-certified top cosmetic dermatologist in New York City and the founder of MOMADerm, a boutique, membership-only aesthetic dermatology clinic where he provides natural, understated treatments for his clients. In our chat, Dr. Charles shed some light on the elusive origins of allergy face and provided professional advice for dealing with it.

What causes allergy face?

If exposure to irritants like seasonal pollen upsets your skin, you're probably dying to get to the bottom of the so-called allergy face. But the answer may not be as clear-cut as you're hoping. First and foremost, Dr. Charles explained that this term isn't a single diagnosis. "'Allergy face' is somewhat of a nebulous term that likely groups together a few conditions such as rosacea, perioral dermatitis, and contact dermatitis," he said in our exclusive chat. "While all of those conditions have somewhat different characteristics, they may exhibit itchy skin, painful skin, red flaky skin, and bumps."

Because allergy face is a group of disorders, it's not always easy to identify the root of the problem. However, Dr. Charles suggested a possible culprit, telling Gliz, "The one unifying factor is likely a disrupted skin barrier and an irritating skincare product."

In this case, you might ask yourself: What's disrupting my skin barrier? Many factors can undermine the sanctity of your skin's defenses, including an excessively dry or humid environment, staying under the sun's rays for too long, exfoliating too often or aggressively, and — you guessed it — contact with allergens and pollutants. So, if you think your pollen allergy is contributing to your skin problems, you could very well be right. But you can't hide indoors all the time, so if you're dealing with allergy face, what can you do about it?

Pro tips for treating allergy face

As Dr. Charles pointed out to Gliz, there's no single cause behind allergy face, especially because it could be tied to existing skin conditions like dermatitis or rosacea. That's why he recommended getting a more specific medical opinion. "See a dermatologist ASAP," Dr. Charles told us in our exclusive chat. And in the meantime, he suggested treating your skin gently to minimize pesky irritation. "Limit any active skincare products (acids, retinoids, at-home devices). Stick with gentle cleansers, moisturizer, and sunscreen," he added.

Since a damaged skin barrier is the central issue behind allergy face, you can also consider ways to naturally support and rebuild your epidermis' health. When trying to fix a suffering skin barrier, you can try switching to gentler exfoliants, rinsing your cleanser off right away instead of letting it sit on the skin, and rinsing your face with warm water rather than hot water. Unfortunately, this last point includes limiting hot showers, which could be ruining your skin barrier.

What's more, topically applying some plant oils can lock in moisture and help support your skin barrier. If your dry, itchy skin is crying out for immediate relief, you can gently supplement your routine with products like jojoba oil, almond oil, argan oil, borage oil, and rosehip oil — not to be confused with rose oil. Simply add a few drops to your favorite mild face cream or apply directly to parched skin.