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.