Coronavirus and Allergy - FAQs
Allergy UK has put together a list of FAQs on Coronavirus for people living with allergy. We are working with allergy specialists on our Health Advisory Board and our own Clinical team to answer some of the questions we have received on our Helpline.
We will be updating this document regularly in line with government advice to provide the latest health advice around coronavirus for those living with allergic disease.
The people that contact Allergy UK through our Helpline and social media are an integral part of our allergic community and at this time of uncertaintly it is natural that we would all have questions and concerns. As well as the above FAQ's we have put together some additional questions that our Helpline are facing on a daily basis.
Do anti-allergy medications have a negative effect on immunity?
Most anti-allergy medications do not affect immunity, but it does depend on the medication. Medication such as antihistamines and Montelukast are generally considered safe so you should continue to use these. To the best of our knowledge, there is no reason to think that antihistamines would lower the immune response. Inhaled and nasal steroids are also generally considered safe as they only target the nose or the lungs to reduce any inflammation and reduce their hypersensitivity. However, oral steroids and other immunosuppressive tablets could adversely influence immunity and a healthcare professional will need to carry out a risk-benefit evaluation, so you should seek advice from your GP or specialist for further advice on this.
I understand that allergy is a disease of the auto immune system. Does that mean that having an allergy makes you more vulnerable?
Allergy is not an autoimmune disease. Allergy is a result of an exaggerated immune response to an allergen, e.g. a particular food or pollen. Our immune system is our defense mechanism and it is there to respond to things like viruses and bacteria to defend ourselves. Do not confuse allergy, and the exaggerated immune response to an allergen, with the body being unable to mount an immune response to a virus or bacteria.
If I have asthma/allergies and I have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for covid-19 should I stop medication?
Our experts strongly advise that you should not stop your medication. If your asthma gets worse then follow medical advice. Well-controlled asthmatic patients are not believed to be under significant risk and patients should continue using their anti-asthma medications.
Can I keep using steroid nasal sprays?
The advice here is that you can continue using your nasal spray. Nasal steroid sprays only target the nasal area and are only minimally absorbed and rarely into the systemic circulation. As a nasal steroid spray it acts by reducing inflammation of the nasal lining, so effectively it reduces the immune response in the nose, not the whole body. One thing that is also worth considering is a nasal saline douche or allergen barrier balm to be used in the hay fever season. These you can get over the chemist counter along with advice on how to use these.
My eczema is quite severe and therefore could I get coronavirus through my broken skin?
There is currently no evidence to suggest that people with eczema or other skin problems are more likely to be infected with COVID-19 or to experience a more severe form of the condition if they do. Some eczema patients may be on medicines by mouth or by injection, that supress their immune system such as azathioprine, ciclosporin or methotrexate. If so, they should discuss with their doctor as to whether they should be shielding.
What do I do if I am self-isolating and can't get certain medications what do I do?
You should arrange for someone to buy over the counter products for you from a chemist or supermarket and deliver these to your door. For repeat prescriptions contact your GP/Pharmacist and arrange a delivery system or someone to pick them up for you. But always avoid direct contact in line with government advice.
If you have been prescribed AAIs keep a check on expiry dates and contact your GP or Pharmacist in good time to arrange a repeat prescription. If you need to familiarize yourself with how to use, please visit the manufacturer website of the AAI that you have been prescribed for instructions.
I need food products for (me) my child with multiple food allergies and I went to the supermarket today for non-dairy milk and none was left. What are you doing about this?
Allergy UK is very aware of the impact of ‘bulk buying’ on people who need ‘free from’ products to feed themselves and/or their children. We have highlighted this issue through all our communication channels and are working together with other partners to bring this to the attention of government departments and agencies on the basis of the needs of people living with food allergy and its potential status as an “underlying condition”. We are also contacting all the major supermarkets directly to bring this to their attention and ask what action can be taken. You can try contacting food shops to order these products in specially for you if you explain that you need this for a milk-allergic child.
My child has food allergies and I am worried that with everything going on I will not be able to get an ambulance quickly if he suffers anaphylaxis.
Anaphylaxis still remains a priority for the emergency services. If your child suffers an allergic reaction, administer their AAI, phone 999 immediately and say ‘anaphylaxis’ pronounced ‘anna-fill-axis’
I have a severe latex allergy and in the current situation I am concerned about supermarket staff on the fresh food counter wearing what looks like latex gloves to serve my food. What can I do?
We advise that you ask the staff member if the gloves are latex, tell them you have a severe latex allergy and require non-latex gloves to handle your food. We will also highlight this issue to supermarkets directly to help raise awareness of latex allergy.
I have eczema on my hands and washing my hands more, in line with theadvice, is making this much worse. What can I do?
Handwashing is the best way to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Each time you are washing your hands, you should also be using emollients or hand cream. Beware if you have cracked hands that you do not wear latex gloves (particularly powdered variety) as this has the potential to sensitize you to latex and may go on to give symptoms of latex allergy.