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We react more sensitively, so that your skin doesn’t.

Allergies are reactions by the body caused by hypersensitivity in the immune defence system to otherwise harmless environmental substances. Allergies begin with sensitisation at the first contact with the allergen. Allergies are divided into four types.

The most common type of allergy, type I, is an immediate reaction in which histamine and other inflammatory messengers are released through the binding of allergens to antibodies. Type I allergies include hay fever, allergic asthma and hives. Contact allergies are delayed type IV allergies. Inflammatory reactions occur 12 to 72 hours after contact with the allergen.

Type II and type III allergies are less common. Type II allergies includes transfusion reactions where antibodies bind with cellular antigens. In type III allergies, immune complexes are formed from antigen-antibody complexes which clog fine vessels and can have a tissue-damaging effect.

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Your questions.
Our answers.

What are the most common allergens?

The 14 most important allergenic substances are eggs, peanuts, fish, gluten-containing cereals, crustaceans, lupins, cow’s milk, nuts, sulphur dioxide and sulphites, celery, mustard, sesame, soya and molluscs. In the case of pollen allergies, sensitisation to birch, alder, hazel, timothy grass, rye, mugwort and ragweed are particularly frequent.

How can we determine what the body is reacting to?

If a type I allergy is suspected, we first perform a skin prick test using standardised test allergens. From this we can detect IgE antibodies against certain allergens and determine the general allergy with a high degree of accuracy. Provocation tests are an important part of the diagnosis and allow us to administer the test allergens as nasal sprays or eye drops. However, we can only perform these tests if the type of sensitisation is suspected. Random provocations, in the case of suspected insect venom allergies or food allergies must be carried out in the clinic under supervision in the event of emergencies. Type IV contact allergies are determined with an epicutaneous patch test: test patches are attached to the back and tested after 48 or 72 hours.

What is the difference between a food allergy, sensitivity and intolerance?

In contrast to an allergy, the symptoms of intolerance and intolerance are dose-dependent and there is no prior sensitization (i.e. no immune system reaction).

Can allergies be prevented?

Studies show that children who have been breastfed for up to four months are less likely to suffer from allergies.

How is hay fever treated?

We can usually reliably reduce the symptoms of hay fever. We recommend treatment with antihistamine tablets and nasal sprays with locally effective cortisone and antihistamine mixtures as well as with eye drops containing antihistamines. If the symptoms persist, desensitisation should be considered to avoid the spreading of the symptoms from the upper to the lower respiratory tract.

What can you do at home if you are allergic to house dust?

All duvets and pillows should be provided with an appropriate protective cover. To reduce the occurrence of house-dust mites, beds, mattresses, blankets and pillows could also be treated with a Mahalin-containing spray. This makes the skin cells on which the mites feed inedible. The following principle applies: wash bedding every three months at 60 degrees C (at least) or have them professionally cleaned. It also helps to keep your bedroom relatively cool (18 degrees C) and to avoid open dust catchers (shelves, carpets etc.).

What is desensitisation?

In cases where the specific immunotherapy is desensitisation, we inject allergen extracts in increasing concentrations under the skin or under the tongue if a type I allergy has been diagnosed. This should achieve immunotolerance. The treatment usually takes place over a period of three years.

What is histamine intolerance?

Intolerances are not allergies. In the case of hereditary or acquired histamine intolerance, the activity of the enzyme diamine oxidase (DAO), which is responsible for histamine degradation, is disturbed. The body forms histamines under stress, and histamines are also a component of a wide variety of foods. One cause of this degradation disorder could be an inflammation of the intestinal mucosa, since the enzyme is formed by the cells lining the intestinal tract (enterocytes).

What are the symptoms of histamine intolerance?

Histamine intolerance increases the histamine concentration in the blood serum, which leads to the following symptoms: diarrhoea, stomach pain, wind, ‘red wine intolerance’, headaches, joint pain, menstrual pain, itching, hives, swelling of the lips, hands and feet (angioedema) and neurodermatitis.

Which foods should be avoided in the case of histamine intolerance?

In order to avoid higher histamine concentrations, the following foods should be (temporarily) removed from the diet and/or taken with caution:

  • Ripe cheeses: Camembert, Gouda, Parmesan, Emmental and Cheddar
  • Smoked and pickled fish: herring, sardines, tuna and mackerel
  • Matured and cured meat: sausages, salami, smoked and cured ham, aged beef
  • Alcohol: red and white wine, beer, champagne and red wine vinegar
  • Yeast and soya products
  • Chocolate and other foodstuffs containing cocoa
  • Black tea
  • Pulses and some nuts: beans, chickpeas and peanuts
  • Fruits: strawberries, raspberries, oranges and other citrus fruits, bananas, pineapples, kiwis
  • Sauerkraut, aubergines, spinach, tomatoes, spring onions

Since each organism reacts differently, your diet should take your individual tolerances into consideration. Smartphone apps, for example, can help with this. The following foods are generally considered harmless: yeast-free bread, pastries, potatoes, rice, pasta, milk and dairy products, eggs, fresh meat, fresh or frozen fish with a high fat content, herbs, vegetables other than sauerkraut, eggplant, spinach or tomato.

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