Australia has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world. In fact, approximately 2 out of every 3 Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer before the age of 70 years. Australians are also 4 times more likely to develop skin cancer than any other type of cancer.
Who is most at risk?
The chance of developing skin cancer depends on a number of factors. A person may be more likely to develop skin cancer if they:
Nevertheless, it is important for everyone, regardless of age or skin type, to take steps to protect themselves against skin cancer.
Solariums, sunlamps and sun beds are not safe ways to tan. Solariums emit ultraviolet (UV) radiation that, according to SunSmart Victoria, can be up to 3 times as strong as the midday sun. Solariums have been shown in research to increase the risk of skin cancer: those who use a solarium before the age of 35 years have a 75 per cent greater risk of developing a melanoma than those who do not use solariums.
Some medical treatments can increase the risk of skin cancer. These include UV treatment for skin conditions such as psoriasis. In addition, a number of medicines, including some creams and lotions, can make a person more susceptible to skin damage from UV rays. Ask your doctor if any medicines you are prescribed are likely to increase your sensitivity to UV light.
Some substances are photosensitisers, and exposure to them, for example through your occupation, can make you more sensitive to UV light, and put you at increased risk of skin cancer. Examples include:
Older people may be particularly prone to depression because of the increased likelihood that they will be experiencing stressful life events, however depression is not a normal part of ageing.
According to the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare, mood disorders such as depression are the most common type of mental health problem in older people.
Risk factors for depression in later life (65 years and older) include:
Signs of depression
Ddepression may go unrecognised in the elderly, being dismissed by family, friends and doctors as changes relating to ageing, dementia or other illness.
Signs of depression commonly misinterpreted in older people include:
Consequences of untreated depression
It is important that depression is recognised and treated, as the disease can have consequences for the individual if left untreated. Aside from the unnecessary suffering associated with untreated depression, the condition can also have a negative impact on physical health, relationships, and the ability to live independently.
In extreme cases, depression in older people is associated with an increased risk of suicide and suicide attempts.
Treatment of depression
In general, the treatment for depression in older people is the same as in younger people, and it commonly involves a combination of lifestyle modification, counselling and antidepressant medication. Treatment choices will vary, depending on the nature and severity of the depression, and other factors, such as the person's physical health.
Depression linked to stressful life events may respond to psychological treatment such as cognitive behaviour therapy and counselling. Depression which is biological in origin may require drug treatment or physical treatment such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
Newer antidepressants called SSRIs appear to have fewer side-effects than older ones but they commonly cause headache, nausea and drowsiness. ECT involves a general anaesthetic which carries risks, and may also lead to confusion and memory problems.
Complementary and alternative therapies which may be useful for mild, non-biological depression include relaxation and exercise.
Sometimes there can be a reversible cause for the depression, such as a medicine that is being taken for another condition.
Prevention of depression
Evidence is growing that the development of depression later in life may be associated with vascular disease. (Vascular disease affects the blood vessels and can cause conditions such as stroke, transient ischaemic attack (TIA, also called mini-stroke) and heart attack.) So you can reduce your risk of developing depression by addressing risk factors for vascular disease, e.g. quit smoking and ensure high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels are treated.
You can also reduce your risk of developing depression in your senior years by exercising regularly, keeping your mind active, and participating in social activities. Other important preventive measures, when required, include control of chronic pain and grief counselling after losing a loved one.
What causes anxiety?
Anxiety is a part of normal life. Most people feel anxious when facing a threat or a new challenge. An examination, job interview or important sporting contest can all produce normal anxiety. Indeed, anxiety is often helpful in these situations. But while too little anxiety might make us complacent, too much can make life very difficult.
How does anxiety affect us?
Anxiety affects us in a number of ways. Mentally, it can make us feel worried, interfere with our attention and concentration, and cause a subtle bias in the way we think — making us see the world as a scarier place than it really is.
Anxiety also produces a range of physical effects, such as a rapid pulse, dizzy turns, shaking, digestive upsets, sweatiness and a tendency to breathe too quickly — hyperventilation. It frequently leads to insomnia.
Anxiety also affects our behaviour, leading to an avoidance of situations we think will make us anxious.
Anxiety is abnormal when the amount of anxiety experienced is inappropriate for the situation. This abnormal anxiety may show itself as one of a group of illnesses, known as the anxiety disorders.
Conditions classified as anxiety disorders
Treatment for anxiety
There are several effective ways of treating anxiety disorders. Treatment may involve lifestyle measures, relaxation, counselling and medication.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a commonly used form of counselling for anxiety disorders. It incorporates education about anxiety and techniques like problem solving. As the name suggests, it helps people understand the way their thoughts about the anxiety-provoking situation shape their response to it, and how these behaviours can perpetuate the anxiety. The therapist works with the anxious person to start challenging these thoughts and modify their behaviours in a way that diminishes the anxiety.
CBT can be a highly effective form of therapy for a range of anxiety disorders and is generally preferred over medication for long-term treatment. CBT requires considerable practice on the part of the person being treated, and successful treatment will involve exposure to some anxiety along the way.
What is depression?
Depression is more than just feeling down or low. It is natural to temporarily feel ‘down in the dumps’ from time to time, especially if you are going through an upheaval, loss or stressful situation. Some people refer to this as ‘feeling depressed’. However, if these feelings are intense and persist over weeks or months and if they stop you enjoying or even doing your normal activities, it’s likely that you have depression. Depression is a serious illness that can have a great impact on your everyday life. It’s not something you can normally ‘just snap out of’.
Worldwide, depression is among the leading causes of disability. As well as being disabling in its own right, depression is a risk factor for self-harm and suicide, and for coronary heart disease.
How common is depression?
Depression is very common. On average, one in 6 people will experience depression in their lifetime. So, if you have depression, you’re by no means alone.
What are the symptoms of depression?
The symptoms of depression
Not surprisingly, if you are experiencing these symptoms, you may stop doing things you previously enjoyed and, if the symptoms are severe, you may find it hard to communicate with others. In this way, depression can lead you to withdraw socially and become isolated. You may feel overwhelmed and be struggling to keep on top of things at work or at home.
Depression can also have other symptoms like headaches and muscle pains, indigestion, constipation or diarrhoea and lowered sex drive. If these physical symptoms are more obvious than feeling unhappy, people may not even realise they are depressed.
What causes depression?
Depression is a complex illness, and there is seldom only one cause. While depression can be triggered by a stressful life event in some people, it develops ‘out of the blue’ in others. On a biochemical level, experts believe that an imbalance in brain chemicals can be triggered by a combination of genetic vulnerability and external factors like those described below.
Some people may have a genetic tendency to develop depression. However, depression does not always run in families, and not everyone with a family history of depression will become depressed.
Stressful life events (such as loss of a relationship or job)
Unhappy experiences in childhood or in relationships can increase the risk of depression, while good experiences such as a close relationship with a parent or friend or feeling that you have a ‘purpose in life’ can be protective.
In some people, depression can be triggered by long-term use of certain medicines, including some medicines to control high blood pressure, sleeping tablets and occasionally the oral contraceptive pill.
Alcohol and recreational drugs
The relationship between these substances and depression is complex and not fully understood. Some people with depression find themselves relying on recreational drugs or alcohol to cope with their symptoms. However, as well as causing many health problems of their own, these substances can actually contribute to depression. This may be because of their actions on brain neurotransmitters—chemical messengers that allow nerve cells to communicate with each other.
Chronic (long-lasting) illness
Illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease can increase the risk of depression, as can an underactive thyroid.
Certain personality tendencies like being overly dependent, self-critical, pessimistic or easily overwhelmed make you more likely to become depressed.
What types of depression are there?
Doctors and other healthcare professionals may classify depression in different ways. Some believe depression is broadly one condition with different levels of severity, while others find it valuable to classify it into distinct subtypes. Here are some terms you may come across.
Major depression (also called clinical depression) means at least 2 weeks of low mood or loss of interest accompanied by at least 4 of the ‘other’ symptoms described in the second column of the table above. People with major depression have considerable distress or find it hard to function in their daily lives.
This is a relatively mild but chronic low mood. It is diagnosed if you have had at least 2 years of low mood for most of the day on more days than not, but your symptoms are not consistent with those of major depression. Dysthymia is not usually disabling, but it does increase the risk of more severe depression.
This is also called major depression with psychotic features. People with this uncommon type of depression have a severely depressed mood. The hallmark of this type of depression is psychosis, meaning that the person’s mental state is grossly distorted and that they have lost touch with reality. Someone with psychotic depression will have either hallucinations (such as hearing voices saying bad things about them) or, more commonly, delusions (fixed, firmly held false beliefs, often very disturbing in their nature, such as believing they are the cause of certain bad things happening in the world).
This form of depression has slightly different symptoms than the typical form, and tends to occur earlier in life. Most people with major depression have trouble sleeping and lose their appetite; in contrast, people with atypical depression tend to oversleep and overeat. In addition, in most cases of major depression your mood remains flat despite what may be happening in your life; however, in atypical depression, although you are predominantly sad, your mood may fluctuate in response to specific events.
Other disorders that feature depression include antenatal and postnatal depression; bipolar disorder; seasonal affective disorder; and adjustment disorder.
What should I do if I think I have depression?
You may feel reluctant or embarrassed to seek advice, but remember that getting help for depression is not a sign of weakness.
Depression is not something you can treat on your own, and it is important that you seek help from a general practitioner (GP) or mental health professional. Your GP is often the best person to speak to initially, and it’s a good idea to ask for a long appointment so that you have time to talk things through, complete an assessment and discuss treatment options. Your GP may refer you to a specialist such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, or to a local specialist mental health centre.
The kind of treatment that your doctor suggests will depend on the type and severity of your depression, your general health and any other illnesses you may have. Options include medicines and psychotherapies (talking treatments).
Different types of psychotherapy may be used to treat depression:
If you are thinking about harming yourself, you should contact your mental health centre or GP immediately. If they are not available, call a telephone support line such as Lifeline or Kids Help Line.
What can I do to help myself?
How long does depression last?
On average, an episode of major depression lasts 4 to 8 months, although this duration can be shortened by treatment.
What is the outlook for people with depression?
Depression can recur; 60 per cent of people who have a depressive episode do not have another during the next year, while the remaining 40 per cent do. The risk of recurrence is higher for people who have had 3 episodes of depression. The pattern of relapse (recurrence) of depression varies — some people have long periods free of depression, others have clusters of episodes, and still others have more episodes as they get older.
Nonetheless, most people with depression can be treated successfully; with proper treatment, most people with serious depression improve and can get back to their normal lives.
If you or someone you know is depressed and/or having suicidal thoughts, see your doctor, or phone one of these helplines.
Lifeline (24 hours)
13 11 14
Kids Helpline (under 18 years of age)
1800 55 1800
Just Ask - rural mental health information
1300 13 11 14
Mensline Australia (24 hours)
1300 78 99 78
SANE Helpline - mental illness information, support and referral
1800 18 SANE (7263)
In Australia, asthma affects up to one in 6 children. Asthma is a common reason for children being admitted to hospital and is a frequent cause of children missing school.
However, schools are now becoming more aware and better prepared when it comes to asthma. Australia's Federal Government launched an Asthma Friendly Schools programme in 2000. At the time of writing, just over half the schools in Australia were registered as ‘asthma friendly’.
Asthma-friendly schools actively support the whole school community in the management of asthma.
Criteria for accreditation as an Asthma Friendly School
Unfortunately, many children remain reluctant to use their puffers at school — it's just not ‘cool’. So what can the parent of a reluctant child with asthma do?
Firstly, see your child's doctor or specialist for an individualised written asthma action plan that takes into account any special needs that your child has.
Then use this checklist as a guide to help your child cope with their asthma at school — you may need to do more than the advice listed here, depending on the severity of your child's asthma. Consult your doctor to help you compile a checklist specifically for your child.
Asthma and school sport
Exercise is important for children's health, even though it can trigger asthma symptoms. Seek your doctor's advice if your child is getting a tight chest, breathlessness, cough or wheeze when they exercise. A thorough assessment is important to see whether asthma is causing the symptoms — if it is, your doctor can suggest ways to help control your child's asthma.
With an increasing number of high-profile athletes speaking out about having asthma, sport and exercise are actively being encouraged for children with asthma. This will help make these children less self-conscious about managing their asthma in public and encourage them to keep healthy and active.
When do children begin to get teeth?
Most children will get their first tooth between the age of 5 and 9 months, but some children are born with a tooth. By the time they are 12 months old, most babies have the top and bottom 4 front teeth. If no teeth have appeared by 12 months, a dentist should be consulted.
The first molars appear after about one year of age and are the teeth that can cause the most discomfort as they come through.
By two-and-a-half years, most children will have 20 milk or ‘baby’ teeth. These teeth will be lost from 6 years of age to make way for their permanent or adult teeth. The first of the permanent teeth to appear are the lower first molars (‘6-year-old molars’), followed by the front (incisor) teeth.
What happens when a baby tooth breaks through?
The skin over the tooth may become red and swollen, and the gum may feel hard. Some babies find this painful and uncomfortable.
Most babies have a compulsion to put their fists or objects into their mouths to chew on and rub against their gums.
For some children teething also causes a loss of appetite, irritability or excessive dribbling (which can cause a facial rash). The child may be restless when awake, and have difficulty sleeping.
There is no evidence that teething causes high fevers or diarrhoea. If a child is unwell a more serious condition should be excluded before ‘teething’ is blamed.
Treating the pain
To help reduce the pain associated with teething the following measures may be useful.
Teething may cause your baby to be mildly off-colour but it does not cause serious illness. Take your child to the doctor if your child has a high temperature, diarrhoea, sore ears, is not drinking, or seems unwell rather than just grizzly.
What are lung function tests?
Lung (or pulmonary) function tests are performed for a variety of reasons: diagnosing airway obstruction, measuring reactions to treatments for asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and determining the severity of your asthma.
Your doctor may ask you to perform tests to help develop an asthma management plan. You may perform peak flow tests yourself at home (using your peak flow meter) as part of monitoring the success of your treatment and the status of your asthma. Your doctor will instruct you in how to do the test and record the results. You may also be tested with a spirometer in your doctor’s surgery or local laboratory.
Who needs lung function tests?
Lung function tests are part of the routine diagnostic work-up and management of patients with respiratory conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (emphysema and chronic bronchitis), and include spirometry tests and peak flow meter measurements.
What is spirometry?
Spirometry is a test of lung function that measures the amount of inhaled and exhaled air using a device called a spirometer. It gives a measure of the maximum amount of air you can breathe out (after taking a deep breath in) and how much you can breathe out in one second. A spirometer issues a graph of respiratory movements and function known as a spirogram.
What is a peak flow meter?
Peak flow meters measure the greatest speed that can be reached when you breathe out through the meter as hard and fast as possible from the biggest breath in you can manage.
Your doctor may use a peak flow meter to monitor your asthma and management progress regularly, but spirometry is the test of choice for doctors to determine the severity of asthma at any given point in time.
You can use your own peak flow meter to conduct peak flow measurements at home as part of your asthma management plan. Peak flow readings should always be done using the same peak flow meter as there is variation among different meters.
What is my doctor measuring when I take a lung function test?
Your doctor or respiratory physician wants to determine how well your lungs are functioning and there are a few measurements they can take using a spirometer, including the following.
Acute pain is short-lived pain that goes away when the injury or disease causing it is treated or has healed. Pain is said to have become chronic when it has occurred on most days of the week for more than 3 months.
What causes chronic pain?
About one in 5 adults in Australia experiences chronic pain. The cause of chronic pain is often an injury, such as sporting injuries, motor vehicle accidents, and accidents in the home and at work.
Chronic pain can also be caused by an ongoing disease such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or cancer.
In some cases no physical cause for the pain can be found, or pain persists long after an injury has healed. In many cases, chronic pain is a disorder in itself rather than being the symptom of a disease process.
Firstly, it is very important that you see your doctor for an assessment of your pain to make sure there is not a serious underlying cause. This will include taking a history from you, performing a physical examination, and may also involve some tests. You should ask your doctor anything about your condition that you do not understand or that you are concerned about.
Managing your pain
The management of chronic pain will be different for each individual. Your doctor will probably draw up a personal management plan for you. This may include medication and involve other therapists, such as a physiotherapist, occupational therapist or clinical psychologist, in your care.
Although each person's management is individualised, there are a number of things that most people can generally do to help manage their pain. These include the following:
People with chronic pain may experience anxiety and depression, which can make the pain seem worse. It is very important to talk to your doctor if you are feeling anxious or depressed.
Although chronic pain may not always be able to be completely relieved, with good management most chronic pain can be helped.
How is blood pressure measured?
Blood pressure is measured using an instrument called a sphygmomanometer. It consists of an inflatable cuff, an inflating bulb, and a gauge to show the blood pressure.
The cuff is wrapped around the upper arm, and inflated to a pressure where the pulse in the arm can no longer be heard or felt. The doctor then raises the cuff pressure slightly beyond this point, and then slowly lowers it in order to get a reading of the systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
The systolic reading (the first number of the two) indicates the pressure of blood within your arteries during a contraction of the left ventricle of the heart. The diastolic reading (the second number) indicates the pressure within the arteries when the heart is at rest. Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg), for example 120/80 mmHg (known as 120 over 80).
What are the acceptable blood pressure levels?
According to the Heart Foundation of Australia, blood pressure just below 120/80 mmHg can be classified as ‘normal’ and blood pressure between 120/80 and 140/90 mmHg is classified as ‘high-normal’.
A person is defined by the Heart Foundation as having high blood pressure (hypertension) if they have a systolic pressure greater than or equal to 140 mmHg and/or a diastolic pressure greater than or equal to 90 mmHg. Hypertension is further classified as mild, moderate or severe as the pressure increases above this level.
Low blood pressure, or hypotension, is not as easy to define as it is usually relative to a person’s normal blood pressure reading, and varies between different people. It generally refers to a blood pressure below an average of about 90/60 mmHg.
Getting an accurate reading
It is recommended that you do not smoke or drink caffeine-containing drinks for 2 hours before having your blood pressure monitored, as this can cause an increase in your readings.
It has also been estimated that about 15 per cent of people who have elevated blood pressure readings taken at the doctor’s surgery actually have acceptable levels outside the surgery, when under normal stress levels. This is known as ‘white coat’ hypertension. People with white coat hypertension may benefit from self-monitoring or monitoring of their blood pressure outside the clinic setting. This can be achieved by a person wearing a portable automatic blood pressure machine for 24 hours while they go about their usual daily routine.
Keeping on target
Raised blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and the higher your blood pressure, the greater your chance of having heart disease or stroke. For this reason it is important that you have your blood pressure monitored regularly, and that you always take any medicine prescribed for hypertension.
Hypertension can also be controlled to a large extent by lifestyle modifications such as reducing excess weight, undertaking regular physical activity, and giving up smoking. Dietary interventions such as reducing your alcohol, salt and fat intake may also help to lower your blood pressure and reduce your absolute risk of cardiovascular disease.
What is an allergy?
An allergy occurs when the body's immune system over-reacts to normally harmless substances (called allergens). These substances may be in the air or in what you touch or eat, including medications. Allergies are often a contributing factor to conditions such as eczema and asthma.
If you are an ‘allergic’ person, and you come into contact with an allergen, your immune system produces a special kind of antibody (IgE). Other cells release further chemicals such as histamine that cause the symptoms you experience when you have an allergic reaction.
A very common indoor environmental allergen is the dust mite — or, to be more precise, its faeces. Pollen, particularly from grass, trees and weeds, is another common allergen, as is animal dander (skin scales or flakes from animals). Metals such as nickel in watch bands or belt buckles, and latex in rubber products are relatively common contact allergens.
A number of foods can also cause allergy: the most common are peanuts, dairy, eggs and seafood. However, true food allergies are not common and most reactions to food are more likely to be food intolerance rather than an allergic reaction that involves the body's immune system. Some moulds and insect bites and stings can also cause allergies.
Cigarette smoke is often considered a cause but it is actually an irritant rather than an allergen. That means it does not cause the allergy, but makes an existing allergy worse.
Symptoms depend on which part of the body is affected. For example, hay fever (also known as allergic rhinitis) affects the eyes and nose, causing sneezing, a runny nose, watery, itchy eyes, irritated and itchy throat and, sometimes, a stuffy, blocked nose.
Allergic contact dermatitis (a condition which is caused by the skin coming into contact with an allergen, such as nickel) is characterised by red, scaly skin that itches where it has made contact with the allergen.
Allergies to some foods, bites or stings can cause urticaria (itchy blisters and weals — raised red, itchy patches on the skin).
There are many causes and symptoms of allergy, so if you think you have an allergy, ask your doctor for advice.
Severe allergic reactions
A very severe allergy can cause an anaphylactic reaction, where the person can become very flushed, break out in a rash, have difficulty breathing, suffer a severe drop in blood pressure, and eventually lose consciousness. This is a life-threatening situation and needs urgent medical attention (call an ambulance and tell a member of the emergency services what is happening).
What causes allergies?
While you do not inherit an allergy directly, you may inherit a tendency to be allergic. Doctors call that being atopic. Allergies start only if you are then exposed to an allergen (things that trigger an allergic response in the body).
Once you develop a sensitivity to an allergen, an allergic response is set off again every time you are exposed to the things to which you are allergic.
If you think you or your child may have an allergy to anything, it is important to talk to your doctor, who might suggest tests such as a skin prick test or a blood test (known as a RAST — a radioallergosorbent test).
In skin tests, a needle is pricked into the skin through a drop of the suspected allergen, usually on the skin of the person's inner forearm or back. The size of the weal on the skin indicates how strongly you are allergic to a particular allergen. As many as 30 allergens can be tested at the same time to help identify the particular substances to which you are allergic.
Treatment of allergies
The most important part of managing allergies is avoidance of allergens.
Allergy symptoms also have specific treatments, including medication and self-care methods.
One of the most common medications used for allergies are the antihistamines. These can be quite successful in controlling allergies and many non-sedating and well-tolerated antihistamines are available over the counter from pharmacies.
Other medications for allergy include decongestant nasal sprays to relieve a stuffy nose, and emollient or corticosteroid creams to help soothe inflamed skin.
Your doctor or pharmacist will recommend the right product for your particular symptoms.
Another treatment for some allergies is immunotherapy (desensitisation or hyposensitisation). This involves a series of injections that gradually increase the exposure to an allergen and stimulate the immune system to develop a resistance to the allergen. This, however, requires regular injections over a long period (up to 5 years, for some types of allergy) until you show no significant allergic response to the allergen. It is particularly useful for allergies to insect venoms, such as bee or wasp stings.
People who have life-threatening allergic reactions need to carry an adrenaline self-injection device (EpiPen) with them at all times and be trained in the correct use of adrenaline. Their parents, partners or caregivers should also be familiar with how to use the EpiPen.
Wearing a medical bracelet stating what you are allergic to can be very helpful for doctors and other health professionals. Always remind your doctor or pharmacist of your allergies before starting any new treatment, including complementary medicines.
To minimise allergies, it's important to identify the substances that trigger your allergy and try to avoid them. Here are some tactics to avoid some common allergens, and help minimise allergy symptoms.
Use dust mite covers on all bedding; wash bedding in hot water (more than 55°C) once a week; air pillows and bedding in sunlight for a few hours each week; if possible, replace wall-to-wall carpets with hard flooring such as floorboards; clean non-carpeted floors with a wet or electrostatic mop rather than using a vacuum cleaner; clean carpets weekly with a vacuum cleaner that has a suitable filter (but vacuuming will increase the amount of house dust mite allergen in the air for 20 minutes or so afterwards, so if possible, ask someone else to vacuum and stay out of the room for at least 20 minutes); dust surfaces with a damp or electrostatic cloth 2-3 times weekly; remove fluffy, stuffed toys from your child's bedroom or wash them weekly in hot water (putting soft toys in the freezer overnight kills mites but does not remove allergen); remove soft, upholstered furniture from the bedroom; select furniture that is upholstered in vinyl or leather rather than cloth; and ensure good ventilation throughout your house to avoid moist air build-up. You can never get rid of all the dust mites in your house, but these measures can reduce their numbers.
Keep the garden free of highly allergenic plants; try to stay indoors at times when the pollen count is at its highest, for example, the early evening; ask someone else to mow your lawn; close your bedroom windows at night to prevent pollen entering; wear wrap-around sunglasses to avoid pollen getting into your eyes; and have a shower and wash your hair at night to wash away pollen you may have ‘collected’ during the day.
Don't keep pets, or at the very least, keep them outside.
Avoid strong soaps, perfumes and household cleansing products that may irritate sensitive skin.
If you have food allergies, know what they are and avoid those foods, taking care to maintain a balanced diet. A consultation with a nutritionist or dietitian can be very helpful.
Insect bites and stings:
Make sure you wear footwear outdoors; cover your limbs; don't make sudden moves when bees or wasps are around; avoid strong perfume as it can attract insects; take care in the garden — wear gloves when gardening; and use insect repellent.