Richmond Practice - When to consider desensitisation as a treatment option for hay fever?

When to consider desensitisation as a treatment option for hay fever?

Published in Parent News, May 2015

London has been described as the world’s allergy capital and over a third of people suffer with allergies. Hay fever typically causes cold-like symptoms, such as sneezing, itchy eyes/nose and a blocked or runny nose. These symptoms usually start soon after being exposed to an allergen such as pollen, dust, mould or flakes of skin from certain animals.

Most treatment for hay fever is available over the counter including tablets, nasal sprays and inhalers including steroids.

There are common sense measures which families can also employ to help stay symptom free.

They may include:

  • Remain indoors when pollen levels peak and when the grass in being cut
  • Take antihistamines starting two weeks before the pollen season starts
  • Wash or douche the nasal passages with a dilute salt water solution or use commercial saline sprays available from all chemists as (Sterimar) and eye washes (Optrex)
  • When travelling, make sure the car windows are closed and use the air con to filter out pollen grains
  • Wear protective “wrap around” sunglasses to prevent allergic eyes
  • Keep the bedroom windows closed during the day to keep pollen grains out
  • Rather tumble dry washing
  • Shower and wash hair in the evening to remove all pollen
  • Change into fresh clothes on return from school or work (pollen gets trapped in clothes)

Desensitisation as treatment option:

Desensitisation treatment starts with a skin prick or blood test and the doctor will also take a medical history. Ordinarily only a single relevant allergen is identified. This allergen is then administered repeatedly as an injection or via drops (administered orally) to help the child develop imunity. The treatment continues over a period of three years and is highly effective. With precautions desensitisation is usually safe.

Consider desensitisation treatment if:

  • The common sense solutions suggested here do not bring relief
  • Over the counter and prescription drugs, sprays and inhalers do not bring relieve
  • Hay fever symptoms prevail for more than three seasons
  • Sleep problems develop resulting in lethargy poor concentration and behavioural changes a child’s or adults performance at school or work is impacted
  • Develops allergic asthma

At Elsbeth's Doctors our allergist will, after considering your child’s history, offer you allergy testing and advice about possible desensitization treatment. For more information or to book an appointment contact Elsbeth's Doctors on 030 0303 5009 or email us at



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