Allergies 101 | Relief from Allergies | Picnic Intro | How Does it Work? | Treatment Plans | Who is Eligible | Medications | Pros and Cons
In many ways, “allergies” has become a catch-all term for every sneeze, sniffle, itchy throat, and stuffy nose. While it’s true that these can be symptoms of allergies, the term can encompass much more than an aversion to pollen.
Allergy is not a disease in and of itself. People can have allergies to foods, medications, and even animals. Allergic reactions can range from mild to severe — severe forms of allergies can prove quite dangerous.
Seasonal allergies, the ones that seem to pop up when spring and summer roll around, are among the most common forms of allergies, and the most annoying if you ask us.
Simply put, allergies can leave you feeling pretty miserable. Before you buy that bulk-sized antihistamine and 10-box set of tissues, it might be worth giving Picnic a try.
Picnic is one telehealth company offering subscription-based, personalized allergy treatment.
But, do these personalized treatments actually work? What makes them so special?
We’ve done a deep dive, and we’re pretty intrigued by what we’ve found.
First, Understanding Your Allergies a Little Better
Allergies occur when your body’s immune system becomes hyperreactive in response to allergens. These allergens come from the outside environment and provoke an allergic response or reaction inside your body.
Exposure to allergens can occur when they are swallowed, injected, inhaled, or even just touch your skin (which is the case for a lot of people).
Common allergens can include, but are certainly not limited to:
- Animal dander
- Various foods (peanuts, soy, shellfish, etc.)
- Insect bites
- Medications (penicillin is a common one)
Allergic rhinitis (sometimes called hay fever) is a common response to allergens. It presents with the classic symptoms that most people associate with allergies such as sneezing, stuffy or runny nose, congestion, and itchy, watery eyes.
These effects can be seasonal (from airborne allergens like pollen) or perennial (year-round).
Allergies can have a big impact on daily life — constant sneezing, endless wads of tissues to stop a dripping nose, and more Visine than you bargained for.
Finding Relief from Allergies
You would think relief is easy to find. Surely, in the 21st century, there are plenty of options, right? Well, yes and no.
Although allergy symptoms are common, the allergens that cause them can vary, a lot. What works for one person might not work for another.
So, what are some roadblocks to finding allergy relief?
Access to professional knowledge: Again, allergens are unique to each person. The market is certainly flooded with OTC allergy-relief medications, but they lack the personal touch. They are generally a one-size-fits-all approach to relief. They usually work for some, but not all.
Many people don’t have the time or money (or insurance) to be able to visit their local allergist, if there even is one in their area.
Too costly: Allergy relief that addresses a person’s unique allergens can be quite costly. The proper medication may exist, but high costs may keep people from being able to get them. For example, allergy shots can bring relief to some, but allergy screening and allergy shots can be costly, especially for those without insurance.
This is where Picnic steps in.
Allergies and Picnic
Picnic understands that allergies are no… well, picnic.
In fact, the College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology states that more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year. Allergies are also the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S.
Picnic is a subscription-based, telehealth company who’s all about allergy relief. Their team of allergists and immunologists offer personalized treatment plans with clinically proven allergy medications, all at an affordable price.
Plus, it is all done from the comfort of your home.
They specialize in treating allergic rhinitis, from both seasonal and perennial allergies.
How Does It Work?
Like most telehealth companies that aim to create personalized plans, the process starts with an online quiz. The allergy quiz is designed by allergists and provides you with a unique, personalized treatment plan recommendation.
The process was short and only took us three minutes.
Here are two examples of the kinds of questions we were asked:
- Which allergy symptoms do you usually experience? Listed are the most common allergy symptoms, including nasal congestion, runny nose, itchy nose, sneezing, throat itchiness, red eyes, etc. You can select all that apply.
- Which symptom bothers you the most? Once you’ve chosen your symptoms you are asked to narrow it down to one, the one that creates the most issues for you.
After these questions, we had to provide a name and email address to continue the quiz. In doing so, you are agreeing to telehealth terms and policies.
Next, we were asked more about the severity of symptoms — mild, moderate, or severe — using an interactive sliding scale. We were also asked when we experience symptoms — seasonally or all year long.
Also, be ready to list some of the past treatments and medications you’ve tried for allergy relief (e.g. antihistamines, nasal sprays, etc.) and other ways you’ve tried to manage symptoms, such as allergy shots and air purifiers.
This customer seemed to have a positive experience with the process:
I can’t even tell you how many times I’d go to Walgreens and just stand in the allergy aisle trying to figure out what I actually needed, then just grab the brand I recognized. The Picnic quiz made it super clear what I actually needed and then sent it with clear instructions on how to take it. Thanks, Picnic!
— Cooper, 5/5 stars on reviews.io
Picnic’s Personalized Treatment Plan
At the end of the quiz, we were given a personalized treatment plan based on our answers, complete with a recommended product pack.
Reassuringly, Picnic only offered FDA-approved treatments.
We were given the option to go with a one-month supply or a three-month supply. New customers also get 20% off their first order. According to their site, their allergy packs can be adjusted at any time. Also, we noticed we could cancel the subscription at any time as well, which as you might know from our other reviews, is always a big plus when it comes to subscription services.
What about costs?
Actual costs vary depending on treatment plans and the number of prescription products — here’s what ours looked like:
A product pack with these three medications, Fluticasone (allergy nasal spray), Azeelastine (allergy eye drops), and Cetirizine (antihistamine) costs $51.20 for a one-month supply or $97.60 for a three-month supply (with the 20% discount) — plus shipping costs.
However, a la carte treatment options are also available. Prices varied a lot.
Picnic does not accept insurance since they are a self-pay service. However, they do accept most FSA and HSA cards.
Where are prescriptions filled?
Prescriptions are filled by Eagle Pharmacy, which is accredited by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP).
What about shipping?
A standard shipping rate of $3 applies per order. Expedited shipping can also be chosen by the customer at an extra cost. According to their website, treatments are usually shipped within 1-2 business days after orders are placed and typically arrive at your doorstep in 3 to 5 days.
Picnic only ships within the United States.
Do I have access to clinicians?
As a subscribed member, you have unlimited access to Picnic clinicians. An annual consultation costs $5 and can be managed through your account portal.
Who is Eligible to Use Picnic?
You must be 18 years or older to use Picnic. They do not have a list of states that they service with their telemedicine prescriptions — the only way you can find out is during the quiz.
But, their OTC products can be ordered by anyone within the U.S.
Allergy Medications Offered
Picnic offers various prescription and OTC allergy medications, including antihistamines, nasal sprays, and eye drops. Let’s take a quick look.
Desloratadine (generic Clarinex®) is a non-drowsy oral antihistamine that offers 24-hour prescription-strength relief from allergy symptoms (sneezing, running nose, and itchy watery eyes). The cost is $30. It requires a virtual doctor consultation since it is a prescription medication.
Fexofenadine (generic Allegra®) is non-prescription and provides 24-hour relief from allergy symptoms. It is also non-drowsy. The cost is $21.
Other antihistamines include:
- Diphenhydramine (generic Benadryl Allergy®); no prescription required ($13)
- Loratadine (generic Claritin®); no prescription required ($16)
- Cetirizine (generic Zyrtec®); no prescription required ($16)
- Levocetirizine (generic Xyzal®); prescription required ($20)
Intra Nasal Sprays
Azelastine (generic Astepro®)nasal spray is a prescription-strength, fast-acting antihistamine nasal spray. It helps to relieve allergy symptoms such as post-nasal drip and runny nose. Costs $44.
Another prescription-strength spray is Mometasone (generic Nasonex®). It is a steroidal nasal spray that helps to relieve nasal inflammation. The cost is $58.
Fluticasone (generic Flonase®), a non-prescription nasal spray is also available ($22).
Picnic offers one eye drop option, which is prescription-strength — Azelastine eye drops (generic Opivar®). It has both antihistamines and inflammatory inhibitors to help reduce the effects of red, itchy, and watery eyes caused by allergies. The cost is $26.
Picnic Benefits and Drawbacks
So far, Picnic is shaping up to be a pretty good service for those looking to find personalized allergy relief without leaving home.
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits that stick out to us the most — as well as some drawbacks that could make or break the deal for some potential customers.
Benefits of Picnic
Overall, Picnic has a lot to offer, but here are the best benefits:
Convenient and personalized treatment options has to be one of the biggest benefits of Picnic. Again, allergies may be similar, but their causes vary. A personal touch is always nice. The personalized product pack is tailored to you and you alone. Plus, you don’t have to sign up for office appointments with an allergist — the whole process takes place online.
Access to experts is another benefit. Allergists are considered specialists, so getting access to them can be costly on your own. Picnic gives you access to these trained clinicians and allows you to tap into that knowledge again and again with a flat-rate subscription.
Great customer care. This review by a happy customer is similar to many, many other reviews we’ve seen for Picnic:
I’m always amazed at how responsive the care team is when I message them with questions. Just the other night I wanted to know if I could take my antihistamine with orange juice and they got back to me so fast with an answer.
— Noah, 5/5 stars on reviews.io
Drawbacks of Picnic
Picnic does not take insurance. This is pretty typical with self-pay telehealth companies, so if you planned on using insurance, you are unfortunately out of luck.
They only treat seasonal and environmental allergies. If you are looking for a place to address and treat your food allergies, this place isn’t it.
Picnic is pretty straightforward — they provide personalized allergy relief, and you get access to clinicians that might otherwise cost you a pretty penny through traditional routes.
But, do these personalized allergy treatments actually work? After a thorough review, we can honestly say yes.
Picnic uses the expertise of licensed allergy clinicians as well as clinically proven allergy relief medications, and you can do it without changing out of your pjs.
References, Studies and Sources:
Picnic Allergy: Personalized Allergy Symptom Relief
Allergy Facts | ACAAI Public Website
Hay Fever (Rhinitis) | Symptoms & Treatment | ACAAI Public Website
Allergy Medications: See Your Options
Accreditations & Inspections | National Association of Boards of Pharmacy
Efficacy of mometasone furoate nasal spray in the treatment of allergic rhinitis. Meta-analysis of randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical trials
HSA vs. FSA: What is the Difference Between Them?
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Chris is one of the Co-Founders of Pharmacists.org. An entrepreneur at heart, Chris has been building and writing in consumer health for over 10 years. In addition to Pharmacists.org, Chris and his Acme Health LLC Brand Team own and operate Diabetic.org and the USA Rx Pharmacy Discount Card powered by Pharmacists.org.
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