16-24s are twice as likely to suffer from hay fever than over 55s

June 21, 2017

We may be basking in glorious sunshine, but hot weather spells hay fever misery for many Brits – none more so than the young. Indeed, according to Mintel’s Cough, Cold, Flu and Allergy Remedies UK 2017 report, almost half (48%) of consumers aged 16-24 and 47% of those aged 25-34 have experienced a seasonal allergy, such as hay fever or an allergy to pollen, in the past year, compared to just a quarter (25%) of those Brits aged 55 and over.

And it isn’t just age which has an impact on allergy sufferers, region also plays a significant role. Indeed, while scenes of rolling hills and wildflower meadows are the traditional nightmare for hay fever sufferers, it seems that the pavements of London are the common place to encounter a hay fever sufferer. Some 46% of Londoners have experienced a seasonal allergy in the past year, compared to a national average of 39%.

Those in need of respite from the misery of red eyes and a streaming nose should head to the North East, North West, South East or East Anglia where just 35% of residents in each of these regions have experienced a seasonal allergy in the past year according to Mintel data.

Of those who have experienced a seasonal allergy in the past year, over half (58%) have experienced a stuffy or runny nose, 57% have suffered with sneezing and 47% have been plagued with itchy or watery eyes. However, while a third (32%) of consumers choose to treat seasonal allergies, a long-suffering quarter (26%) of Brits suffer in silence. What’s more, almost half (47%) of hay fever sufferers keep track of pollen levels during the pollen season.

Lucy Cornford, Head of Mintel Beauty and Personal Care at Mintel, said:

“Young adults are the most likely to have experienced an allergy in the last year, which may be due to first-time development or greater awareness of an existing allergy, in contrast to older adults who may have learned to avoid certain triggers. Climate change looks to be increasing instances of seasonal allergies in the UK, with warmer weather causing trees and grass to flower early, releasing more pollen and elongating the hay fever season. But, whilst it could be considered that those living in the countryside may be more likely to be affected, high levels of air pollution within cities – and London in particular – is only serving to exacerbate hay fever symptoms for city and town dwellers.”

Overall, the market for allergy products in the UK increased by 5.6% between 2015 to 2016 to reach £133.7 million.

Away from pollen, it seems Brits are dogged with other non-food allergies. In the last 12 months, almost one in five (17%) Brits has suffered from an allergy to dust mites. Meanwhile, slightly fewer (14%) have suffered from an allergy to household or personal care products such as detergents and toiletries. And while Brits are well known for their love of animals, our four legged friends are causing issues for the 13% of Brits who are allergic to pets.

Mintel research reveals that many allergy sufferers are leaving little to chance, as 62% of Brits who are allergic to household and personal care products check the ingredients of these products for allergens. Meanwhile, half (49%) of all non-food allergy sufferers have changed their lifestyle to avoid allergens, while 39% of those who have experienced a non-food allergy in the last 12 months search online for information about their allergy, rising to 51% of non-food allergy sufferers under the age of 35.

Indeed, as well as being the most likely to suffer from hay fever, under-35s report a significantly higher level of non-food allergies than their older counterparts. Almost three in 10 (28%) under-35s have experienced an allergy to dust mites, and 23% an allergy to household or personal care products.

“While they are the most likely to suffer from non-food allergies, young adults with allergies are more likely to seek online information than other age groups, but this may expose them to a confusing array of information, as well as lead to potential issues in regard to self-diagnosis and treatment. An app that asks about the symptoms suffered alongside tracking activity and food intake, as well as the ability to scan barcodes in order to log the ingredients of personal care or household care products used, could help sufferers to more accurately identify allergy triggers and seek relevant treatment.” Lucy adds.

Press review copies of Mintel’s Cough, Cold, Flu and Allergy Remedies UK 2017 report and interviews with Lucy Cornford, Category Director, Personal Care at Mintel, are available on request from the press office.

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