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View Full Version : Anyone allergic to horse's hay (alfalfa), or possible hay mold? Swollen eyelids HELP!



tpup
Nov. 7, 2011, 09:00 PM
I am desperate. Sorry if this is long, but PLEASE if you have experienced recurring itchy, swollen eyelids or rashes, please read. I am desperate for help! I am 43, healthy female. Confirmed allergies by skin test: mold, tree pollens (oak, etc), ragweed. All else negative (dog, horse, foods, etc).

End of August, I helped unload 50 bales of VERY soft, dusty alfalfa hay. I wore long sleeves but the parts of my arms that did touch the hay presented with typical histamine "streaks" where the hay scratched me. I had hay dust ALL over me - hair, face, body/clothes. That night, my eyelids started itching profusely. By morning my LIDS were swollen. Eye itself was fine. But eyelids had swollen enough to swell eyes almost shut. Very red, swollen. Went to my doc. He said my lids were "infected", poked one area with a needle and extracted mucous. Put me on antibiotics and eye cream.

Few weeks later, itchy eyelids at night, next day swollen lids. Went to eye doc. She claimed I have oily lids. Recommended washing them in baby shampoo, using hypoallergenic makeup. I actually STOPPED using makeup - didn't use alot anyway. Fine for few weeks....

And since then 2-3 MORE flareups. Now the redness/itchiness started UNDER my eye also. The area under and above my eye droops, gets red and swells. I also get an area on same side near my lip - red, dry skin that itches, and this time (last night to today), hives all over my neck ONLY LEFT SIDE. Went to doc twice for last 2 flares. The ONLY thing that works is 5 days of prednisone. But once I am done, it happens AGAIN.

We use "clear" laundry detergent. I use NO makeup. The left side of my face looks monstrous when it happens. BRIGHT red all around my eye, left of my lip and neck. Itchy.

I have pursued with my doc: shingles - he says no. No crustiness or scabbing. He feels CONTACT dermatitis. I do not come in contact with the alfalfa on my face. When I do touch it to add more to my horse's stall, I wash my hands immediately but I suppose the dust is still there. This is the ONLY hay he can chew. It is nice and soft, but dusty.

Doc questions whether there might be MOLD in the hay. UGH. Hate the thought of that. Can I check that in a hay analysis?

Has ANYONE had these symptoms?? I am SO frustrated as there doesn't seem to be a cure in sight right now. NOTHING works :( We've tried cremes, topicals, I take Zyrtec daily - trying Singulair this round (!) I get relief for maybe a week, and then it comes back with a vengeance. Doc wanted me to try 10 days of prednisone but I am having surgery Wed. so he couldn't. I am under stress due to another MAJOR medical condition, hence the surgery this week. I know stress can make your body do weird stuff.

The other possibility he mentioned are my 3 dogs bringing mold/pollen in on their coats. I do lay with them on the sofa (on my left mostly interestingly) BUT I have NOT done this for about 2 weeks - I have been very careful. So wouldn't explain last night's flare up.

Could it be the HAY??? I also soak alfalfa cubes daily (but have been for years). I mix it by hand with bare hands but wash my hands after also. The ONLY thing that changed since August is the addition of this soft alfalfa hay in my horse's stall. I do see him/visit him daily, and I am IN his stall daily to dump his lunch.

I am not sneezing, no watery eyes. Just the itching which is the "warning sign" and by morning my eyes are swelled shut.

Sorry for the book, but am considering hay testing if it may tell me if there is mold in the hay? Any ideas or similar stories?

Alagirl
Nov. 7, 2011, 09:06 PM
It could be all kind of things.
There could be mold in there (mold is actually everywhere, all the time) it could be that there is ragweed in the hay, or the dust just gets you.
Do find an allergy specialist. It took me a couple of years to find a terrier type doctor to rid me of my skin problems.

I hope you get to feeling better!

atr
Nov. 7, 2011, 09:07 PM
Both alfalfa hay and hay mold are respiratory allergy triggers for me. Cleaning out the hayshed before the first cut comes in is a hideous ordeal.

I don't get the itchy eyes thing, but my allergies don't generally present that way.

I find Loratidine (Claritin) is actually way more effective than Zyrtec for this, btw.

CAH
Nov. 7, 2011, 10:13 PM
Did you ever have this problem before you got this load of hay?

Doesnt mean anything if you are just washing hands. Allergens are on your clothes, body, etc. Touch anything to your eyes and....

I assume the dust is really dust and not what I call mold dust, right? You would know it smells like mold but you can't see anything in the hay.

Can you go with not touching the hay?

Hampton Bay
Nov. 7, 2011, 10:37 PM
I'm very allergic to timothy. It makes my whole body itch, I sneeze, can't breathe, eyes red and itchy, etc. I can sorta touch it with my hands, if I don't touch anywhere else before I wash them. Being in an enclosed vehicle with it is out of the question though.

tpup
Nov. 8, 2011, 05:59 AM
Did you ever have this problem before you got this load of hay?

Doesnt mean anything if you are just washing hands. Allergens are on your clothes, body, etc. Touch anything to your eyes and....

I assume the dust is really dust and not what I call mold dust, right? You would know it smells like mold but you can't see anything in the hay.

Can you go with not touching the hay?

Never had the problem once - ever until the night after I unloaded the 50 bales. I had handled a few bales of it beforehand. I had "tested" some from my local coop - had a few bales in my garage and would bring a flake or 2 to my barn. No problems with THAT hay. Same hay but different load. This hay was a NEW load. I had special ordered it for winter. It's Standlee which is great, but I can't help but wonder if it's different in some way. And obviously unloading 50 bales using my arms and against my body is very different than 1 bale in my garage and pulling a flake off every few days. The bales were heavy and I was lifting them from the ground into BO's tractor scoop. She then raised them to loft level and my husband pulled them off (he is fine).

I will try not touching it (rubber gloves) and changing my clothes - especially my jackets before I even get into my truck. I can throw stuff in my truck bed. I always switch boots off and put them back there. It's odd as I have mixed and touched/handled soaked cubes for years. The rash on my neck is RIGHT where my jacket collar hits....also where my sweatshirt collasr hit when I wear them too. It's quite interesting...then the rash spreads down from there.

The hay is the ONLY thing that changed since last week of August. We had come home early from OBX because of the hurricane...and I was able to have the hay delivered that Friday since I as back home Fri. - it's stored in a loft of a barn. It's dry but with all the rain we had in Sept./Oct. I wonder if mold could have developed just from the humid air???

Does anyone know if the hay can be tested for mold? And who to contact?

Belg
Nov. 8, 2011, 06:56 AM
Both alfalfa hay and hay mold are respiratory allergy triggers for me. Cleaning out the hayshed before the first cut comes in is a hideous ordeal.

I don't get the itchy eyes thing, but my allergies don't generally present that way.

I find Loratidine (Claritin) is actually way more effective than Zyrtec for this, btw.

This. All of it. I'm hugely allergic to hay, grass, mold, a few pollens, etc etc etc.

> I take loratidine daily.
> I flush my sinuses nightly with a neti pot
> I wear a dust mask when I mow/bushhog (take care of about 80 acres, 60 bushog, 20 or so mowed)
> I wear a ski mask/dirt bike mask if mowing in wind
> I wash my hands as soon as I handle hay/alfalfa/etc
> I do NOT repeat NOT put round bale strings in my car!

See an allergist. Get allergy shots. If I had time, I would. I got them as a kid, they were very effective.

CAH
Nov. 8, 2011, 07:10 AM
I wonder if there is some kind of chemical sprayed on the hay to help preserve it/dry it....

Tamara in TN
Nov. 8, 2011, 07:58 AM
I have developed some sort of allergy/irritation to something this fall

so...lortadine/claritin is washed down with my morning coffee and a shower/rinse after fiddling with hay or the corn fields. I also have to keep my 7700 cleaner than what I would have thought was "normal" for last season

I'm pretty sure that Standlee has no need of drying agents considering who and where they are

Tamara

LauraKY
Nov. 8, 2011, 08:44 AM
Allegra works better for me...Zyrtec for my daughter. Do you have dogs or cats who might be sleeping on your pillows? Do you wash your hair when you come home from the barn, every day? You could have allergens in your hair, which get transferred to your pillows...that would do it.

I put a fresh pillowcase on every night.

Tamara in TN
Nov. 8, 2011, 09:20 AM
and change your house filters every 20 days

Tamara

Personal Champ
Nov. 8, 2011, 09:38 AM
I am allergic to a ton of stuff - horses, dogs, cats, grass, pollen, mold, dust, dust mites, etc.

I will get that reaction you describe (but not to that degree as I know my triggers) if I handle any hay - but some more than others.

I take Zyrtec D, it works best for me. Finding the right one is kind of a crapshoot.

I know never to touch my face or eyes while at the barn. Grooming sets me off, hay, mowing. I always shower immediately (easier for me as my horses are at home). I do not linger in barn clothes with hair or hay on them - right in the washer, me into the shower. If not, my eyes swell and nose runs and almost swells shut too.

I would definitely wear gloves to handle the hay, perhaps get a slippery lightweight coat that you can wear over your clothes as well - that is what I do - so the hay doesn't stick to the clothes that are touching your skin. Then go home, change and shower immediately.

Good luck!

Skyedragon
Nov. 8, 2011, 09:42 AM
I have the same problem but it doesn't sound nearly as bad as yours, if I touch hay I get red streaks on my skin wherever the hay touched, and just going to the barn gives me swollen and watering eyes, that usually presents the day that I go to the barn and when I wake up the following day I have really crusty and very dry eyes. Only cure I have found was to take a benadril, though I hate how sleepy it makes me.

Since moving to a new barn I haven't had any of the problems. I think the only difference is that instead of getting hay in a stall they get a round bale out in the field and the hay is stored on the opposite side of the barn of where I tack up. Before I was always surrounded by hay or the hay was stored in the indoor or something like that.

sk_pacer
Nov. 8, 2011, 10:26 AM
I have allergies too - assorted pollens, some plants, and something that few in all the water around here this past summer. Allergies run from just red eyes to itchy eyes, drippy nose, coughing (related to the drippy nose), and contact dermatitis which I manage to avoid by watching what i touch. I manage with the generic form of Benadryl which is, thankfully, 10 cents a capsule and it keeps the worst of the problems at bay so I can actually get something done.

fooler
Nov. 8, 2011, 10:54 AM
I am allergic to a ton of stuff - horses, dogs, cats, grass, pollen, mold, dust, dust mites, etc.

I will get that reaction you describe (but not to that degree as I know my triggers) if I handle any hay - but some more than others.

I take Zyrtec D, it works best for me. Finding the right one is kind of a crapshoot.

I know never to touch my face or eyes while at the barn. Grooming sets me off, hay, mowing. I always shower immediately (easier for me as my horses are at home). I do not linger in barn clothes with hair or hay on them - right in the washer, me into the shower. If not, my eyes swell and nose runs and almost swells shut too.

I would definitely wear gloves to handle the hay, perhaps get a slippery lightweight coat that you can wear over your clothes as well - that is what I do - so the hay doesn't stick to the clothes that are touching your skin. Then go home, change and shower immediately.

Good luck!

I follow the same steps to minimize reactions. Zytec is my daily pill replaced by Zyzal (sp) in spring and fall. The Neti pot is my friend and has saved me from many sinus infections.

FYI - this year I have been hit really hard, nasty 4 week poison oak/ivy spell and this fall very itcy eyes and now sinus issues. It is not entirely the hay as we feed coastal only. The rain and 'warmish' weather is great for mold which my major trigger.

So am back to making certain clothes are washed (to death), showers at night (including rinsing the hair), neti pot 2x daily, checking air filter and being more focused on cleaning house and barn. And off to ENT tomorrow :winkgrin:

Good Luck

Bacardi1
Nov. 8, 2011, 11:01 AM
I've never had the eye problem, but have had reactions to certain loads of hay. If I'm raking it/unloading it etc., etc., I do get congested rather quickly. And one time only I came down with a severe case of hives that lasted a couple of months. I knew it was due to the hay because it would always start on one shoulder & would only be on my upper arms, neck, & torso. The one shoulder it would always start on was the shoulder I'd be holding hay flakes on.

brightskyfarm
Nov. 8, 2011, 01:43 PM
You've said several times that the only thing different is the hay.

Is it possible to use other hay for about a week-so and see if this doesnt resolve your issues?.(sometimes it takes a while for allergies to settle down).

Any time you visit an allergist, the first question is ..."whats changed in your world?"
Then those changes are taken out one by one, or altered to see if a person returns to normal.

Id start there.

Ask your local feed mill, county ag extension, vet ??? who does hay testing and send a sample.

Go Fish
Nov. 8, 2011, 03:03 PM
I'd take some of that hay in and get it tested.

I can see having a temporary allergic reaction to something new in your environment, but it almost sounds like you've been poisoned or exposed to some toxic agent.

tpup
Nov. 8, 2011, 05:50 PM
Thanks everyone. I wish I could switch hays, but I am not kidding when I say that after years of trying different ones, this is the only one he can chew and he loves it. He has had zero problems on it. (he has worn down back teeth) This is the Standlee premium alfalfa in the compressed bales.

I can't say I have been poisoned, but I do believe more and more that I am allergic to something related to the hay or in the barn itself. Either the hay itself, or molds inside the hay. It doesn't smell or look moldy. It looks lovely actually. Fresh, green. Standlee is an excellent product.

Today when I got home from the barn I showered immediately. While at the barn, after riding and untacking, my face was itching a little. I was sweaty a little but I thought that was interesting. It stopped after showering.

The barn is in a very rural area - along the edge of very thick woods, tall trees. It's an older barn. I am also suspicious of my horse's coat carrying pollens or molds, and the hay dust itself. I often hug him/talk to him when he eats his lunch daily....and when I do, I often put the LEFT side of my face against his neck. NEVER the right because of the way he stands....his other side is closer to a wall and I never stand there between him and the wall. Today I was careful not to put my face near his coat. He is stalled at night and eats all of his hay overnight. It would make sense that the dust from the hay is on his coat...he lays in his stall also on the bedding. We have had SO SO much rain I am sure there is mold in the barn ("normal stuff", but I am allergic to it)

We'll see if my new cleanliness habits, showering, gloves, etc helps.

ReSomething
Nov. 8, 2011, 07:56 PM
DH is ferociously allergic to the Rhus family and was also a fiberglasser in his youth, and then a beekeeper so we use coveralls a LOT, and if he is really worried he wears a painter's knit hood - don't know what the proper name is but they cover your whole head and neck - wears gloves and tapes them to his sleeves and the same with his boots. Then the whole mess gets peeled off outside, chucked in the wash, separately. He's climbed back in the truck in normal clothes and picked up the allergen on his hands before and the cats right now are bringing stuff in.

Definitely start with getting someone else to handle the hay if at all possible. If this hay is soft/short you may be getting mechanical irritation from the tiny spicules which is what happens with fiberglass. In order to repair or add layers you have to grind down the existing stuff making what seems like millions of tiny glass slivers that are just horrible and will get into your other clothes in the wash etc etc..

Anyway, cover yourself, shower with soap and water and really rinse your face, washing your hair is a good idea too, get your contaminated clothes away from wherever you are, like strip off in the laundry room. You might consider towels on your car seats that you change daily.

I don't use any antihistamines but ragweed puts me out if I get into it and for a while there I was waking up with my eyes stuck shut, having to use an eyewash product, which you might try as well, rinsing your actual eyeballs to get whatever it is off. So sorry for you, especially with some pre existing condition you may be more susceptible. Best of luck and I hope these suggestions help.