Allergy to pine pollen and pine processionary caterpilarhttps://clinicalbcn.es/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/AdobeStock_220547751-scaled-e1644428009241.jpeg19201280Jaritzy Negrín GonzálezJaritzy Negrín Gonzálezhttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/ffb4741bd875cc822a3ba16c3a28a3d2?s=96&d=mm&r=g
Allergy to pine pollen is not common. It can become relevant in areas with high concentrations, for example in the Basque Country and Galicia.
Symptoms can be nasal, ocular or bronchial. Generally, the patient is monosensitive, that is, he has no allergy to other pollens.
What is the pine processionary caterpillar?
The processionary caterpillar is an insect that lives in pine trees and has 4 stages of development: moth, egg, larva and chrysalis. It receives the name of processionary because they parade as in a procession.
In their larval phase they have microscopic hairs whose function is to defend against possible predators. In the mature phase, after leaving the pine trees, the caterpillar can releases up to more than 1 million of these hairs
What are the symptoms produced by the pine processionary caterpillar?
More frequently, it causes itching and skin lesions in exposed areas (arms, legs and face) due to the penetration of the hairs. In children, injuries to the palms of the hands are typical because they try to catch the caterpillars.
Injuries can be:
-Dermatitis with scratching lesions and eczema.
-Contact urticaria which may be associated with angioedema of the eyelids.
-Less frequently, lesions such as vesicles or pustules.
It can also produce ocular symptoms such as conjunctivitis or keratitis.
Respiratory symptoms are less frequent, which can be associated with anaphylaxis.
Why do the symptoms occur?
The mechanism involved in the production of this reaction is usually mechanical or irritative, although it is sometimes produced by an IgE-mediated mechanism.
Who can affect?
It can produce symptoms in anyone who has been exposed to pine forest areas.
It has also been described as an occupational disease in resin collectors, lumberjacks, farmers or ranchers, due to their high exposure to caterpillars.
How can symptoms be treated?
If you present the symptoms described, you should request an assessment by your allergy specialist and the case will be evaluated.
Treatment is symptomatic according to the clinical picture: oral antihistamines, topical or oral corticosteroids. And in severe cases (anaphylaxis) it will be necessary to use adrenaline.
Spring is coming and with it the symptoms in our pollen-allergic patients.
Pollens are microscopic grains, invisible to the human eye that are scattered in the air.
“In our area, the most frequent pollens are Cypress, Plane-tree, Parietaria, Grass, and Olive. Pollen levels increase depending on the time of year, for this reason not all pollen-allergic patients have symptoms in the same months of the year.”
“Pollen allergy can occur with rhinoconjunctival symptoms (sneezing, nasal or ocular itching, mucus, nasal congestion…) and/or bronchial symptoms (shortness of breath, cough, whistling…) You should go to your allergy specialist to find out which pollen or pollens are causing your symptoms and indicate proper treatment.”
If you are a patient allergic to pollen we can recommend:
Keep the windows of the house closed as possible. Ventilate the home for a short time and preferable first thing in the morning or at night.
Travel by car with the windows closed.
Hang clothes inside the house, not outside.
Avoid outdoor physical activities; especially when the pollen count is high.
The use of glasses is preferable to contact lenses, since pollen can be trapped between them and the eye.
Dr. Jaritzy Negrín González Allergy Specialist ClinicAL