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I have been breaking out in a rash since moving back home. My family has 2 dogs that have always bothered my allergies. I would sneeze and get itchy eyes but never in the form of a rash. I started experiencing this when I moved back home, after not living here for a year.Β 

Allergists regularly meet young adults who experience new or increased, severe symptoms when they return home. This happens when they are reunited with their pet (e.g., college students returning home for holidays). The symptoms are related to an animal. Specifically, patients share that they have more symptoms when they come home after being away for several months. This is even though the home environment did not appear to bother them before.

This phenomenon is often referred to as the "Thanksgiving effect.” This is because this holiday is often the first time college students return home. The true prevalence of this phenomenon is not known. Treatment options include:

  • Avoiding exposure to the pet. This can be difficult and may not be possible.
  • Using medications such as antihistamines (e.g., cetirizine). These can help control rashes such as hives. It would not be advisable to use cortisone creams on a regular basis. Other medications include topical nasal steroids, which can help with many allergy symptoms.
  • Having allergy shots (immunotherapy) to dog dander might be an option. They can help with desensitization and building tolerance to dog allergens.

Discuss these options with an allergy specialist.

Allergy, Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema), Hives (Urticaria), Pet Allergy
Answered by

John M. James, MD, is a board-certified allergist. He is also President of Food Allergy Consulting and Education Services, LLC. He has worked as a medical specialist in the field of allergy, asthma, and immunology for over 30 years. Dr. James received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas and his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Tennessee. He is board certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology.

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