Dear Dr. Donna: I love cats, but due to my cat allergies I can’t spend time around them or really cuddle them. Is there a way to reduce or eliminate my allergies?
Dear “Catastrophe”: Have you heard the old adage that “dogs have owners, but cats have staff?” In your case, it’s more like a _50 Shades of Grey_ relationship. Avoid the cats and become a dog person, or start dating an arts students instead: they often look like they could use a good cuddle. However, if your new inamorata turns out to own a cat, try taking a daily antihistamine such as Reactine.
For itchy eyes, runny nose or wheezing, there are antihistamine drops, cortisone sprays and inhalers that your doc can prescribe, which are particularly useful if you need to visit your beau’s parents’ place for the weekend and they have a barrel of cats. All the above are safe to take long-term.
Lastly, you could consider immunotherapy or “allergy shots.” These are once-weekly injections of ever-increasing strengths of the allergen to hopefully desensitize you over time. This is not a great option if you are needle phobic, but should be considered if your dream job is to be a veterinarian, in which case I would still recommend you specialize in race horses in Kentucky once you graduate.
My daughter, Dr. Jenny the vet, says it’s not really possible to make a cat less allergenic, as it is the saliva and skin dander that are the trigger — however, some varieties are less allergenic than others. But really, how cuddly is a hairless cat?
Dear Dr. Donna: When I get stressed, I start to pick the skin around my fingernails. I have tried many times to stop myself from doing it, but it doesn’t seem to work. What could be causing me to do this and is there anything that can be done to stop it?
Dear “Picky”: Your answer is in your question: it appears to be a coping or distracting mechanism. Try painting your nails and picking at the polish instead. If the guys on your hockey team notice, you could go with a less bright color or just cover your nails with band-aids instead. Peer pressure can be helpful: get your friends and classmates to “tweet” when they see you picking.
For a satisfying substitute, try popping bubble wrap — but maybe not in Cameron library. Keep your nails short and make sure that there are no rough nail edges, ever. Use hand lotion and keep a nail file and clipper in your purse or backpack to smooth rough edges immediately. Lastly, manage your stress. There are some great resources available online in the Mental Health Centre section of uwell.ualberta.ca. Maybe you should consider getting a hairless cat to cuddle!
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The remnants of chivalry still linger today, especially in the dating world.