Common Allergens: Descriptions and Treatment Information & Resources

Written by Leanna Serras

An allergen is a substance which can cause an allergic reaction. When some people are exposed to allergens, they react through their immune system to get rid of the problem. For some people, the allergen has apparently no effects. Let's look at allergens in greater detail.

How Many Types Of Allergens Are There? And What Are The Most Common Ones?

There are various types of allergens and some are pretty innocuous. Some of the most common allergens include bacteria, food, dust, chemicals, perfumes, pollen, and smoke. Some allergens affect people during specific seasons, such as winter or spring. They are often triggered by pollens, grass, and other weather-related factors. These are known as seasonal allergens. On the other hand, perennial allergens are allergens which affect people throughout the year.

Animal Products

The most prevalent forms of animal allergies are cat and dog dander in the air. If the allergic reactions are frequent, the best option would be to try and find a new home for your pet. Frequent allergic reactions can cause permanent damage to lungs and other organs. For non-frequent allergic reactions to animals, try keeping the pet out of the bedroom. Use a good quality air purifier and remember to wear protective masks and gloves when handling and grooming your pet. It's also a good idea to use a good quality anti-allergic shampoo for washing.

Drugs & Medicine

Drug induced allergies can happen from any drug. The common causes are penicillin and related antibiotics. Other drugs that can cause allergies are anticonvulsants, insulin, and sulfa drugs. Symptoms are nausea, vomiting, and even anaphylaxis, which can be deadly. Epinephrine is generally used for treating anaphylaxis whereas anti-histamines are used for treating minor rashes and itching.


Allergic reactions to food are caused when allergens in the food survive the heat of the cooking procedure and the acid in the stomach. Also the digestive enzymes found in the digestive organs reach the gastrointestinal lining where they enter the blood and target the organs. Two components of the immune system of the body known as the immunoglobulin E and the Mast cells are responsible for these allergies. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain are some of the symptoms of food allergies. The best treatment is to avoid foods which cause allergic reactions. You can do this by reading the ingredients of the food on the labels and establishing whether or not the ingredients to which they are allergic are present. Apart from this, people with a history of serious anaphylactic reactions must carry a syringe of adrenaline prescribed by the doctor. Wearing alert bracelets and necklaces is also suggested.

Insect Stings

Insect stings from wasps, fire ants, honeybees, and hornets result in about 50 deaths in the US each year. While most people are not allergic to insect stings, some are violently allergic to them. Epinephrine is the most common anti-allergic drug used to treat insect stings such as honeybee stings. There are some self-administered drugs in the market which can be easily carried in case you are working with these insects or hiking in the woods away from medical care.


Mold allergy is caused when you breathe and your breath takes in mold spores in your lungs. This can cause your immune system to overshoot and start reacting violently. The symptoms are coughing and itchy eyes. Mold allergy can also cause asthma and other restricted breathing problems. For treatment, use medication that can control the reaction from molds. Furthermore, stay away from exposure to mold.

Plant Pollens

Pollens are powdery grains that are released by flowers. They help the spread and reproduction of plants of the same species. Pollen and pollination are critical for the survival of the plants. When pollens are carried by the wind, they can come in contact with the skin, nose or eyes of a person. If the person is allergic to pollen, it will cause an allergic reaction. A typical symptom is hay fever. A wide number of prescription drugs and other "over the counter" medications are available for treating hay fever and other allergic reactions. Pseudoephedrine, sedating antihistamines, and loratadine are easily available to treat various allergic conditions related to plant pollens.


Other forms of allergies include allergies to rubber latex products. Latex allergy is caused by mediated reactions to certain proteins which are found in the common rubber tree known as Hevea Brasiliensis. People suffering from this type of allergy develop reactions to new shoes, condoms, and clothes. Metal allergy is another form of allergy which causes reactions in people. One common type of metal allergy is sensitivity to nickel.