Many households have pets and most have cats, usually more than one. Millions of individuals all over the world have allergies to domestic pets and most of these allergies are likely to occur as a reaction to cats than dogs. Once a cat is introduced into a household, it is important to watch out for the development of new allergies among family members that might include an allergic rash.
Always bear in mind that the immune system protects the body against foreign invaders. All forms of allergies are triggered by an erratic immune response to a normally harmless substance or an allergen.
When it comes to cat allergy, the reaction is against the protein Fel d 1 which is generated by cats. This protein is light enough to become airborne and capable of staying in the house for extended periods of time. The amount of allergen generated is not linked to the length of the cat hair. Take note that male cats can produce more of this protein though. In addition, there is no cat breed that does not produce this allergen.
Cat dander is highly potent in inducing an allergic rash or hives among highly sensitive individuals. If an individual has skin allergies to cat dander, the allergic rash can manifest in just minutes of exposure to the animal.
The indications of an allergic rash or hives include redness, skin swelling and itchiness. These rashes are called as wheals and have the tendency to change size or shape over time. Hives typically vanish over time but can be uncomfortable and irritating.
What are the other symptoms?
Exposure to cats can also trigger other symptoms aside from the allergic rash. If the individual suffers for allergic rhinitis, he/she can also experience runny nose, nasal congestion and sneezing episodes.
Some individuals end up with itchy, red and watery eyes which is a condition called as allergic conjunctivitis. Other indications of an allergic reaction include cough, facial pain and bluish discoloration under the eyes.
Being exposed to cats can also trigger a reaction in the subcutaneous tissue which is called angioedema. The symptoms include puffiness of the face and lips. Take note that angioedema can also lead to the swelling of the larynx, thus resulting to difficulty breathing. If the individual has allergies, it could be aggravated by cat dander and results to wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness and difficulty breathing.
Most of the allergic reactions to cat dander can be managed symptomatically using antihistamines. The latest variants of antihistamines such as loratidine can cause minor sedation and are usually effective. The older and more potent antihistamines such as diphenhydramine might be more effective but can likely lead to sedation.
Many of these medications are readily available over-the-counter. The other symptomatic treatments include leukotriene modifiers, decongestants and cromolyn sodium. In some cases, immunotherapy or allergy shots are an expensive and time-consuming treatment option but can provide permanent allergy relief.
If an individual has cat allergy, it is not usually required to eliminate the cat. Whether the individual is required to or not, it depends on the severity of the allergy and if it can be managed easily. On the other hand, if the individual suffers from other symptoms aside from the allergy rash, getting rid of the cat might be the only option.