Allergy-Proof Your Home
1. Avoid contamination of bedroom with outdoor pollens; this prevents constant exposure to pollens all night long, which may be even more important than acute exposure to outdoor pollens when outside for 1-2 hours at a time.
- leave outdoor play or work equipment outside or in a separate area of your home - never bring shoes, tennis rackets, soccer clothes, golf clubs, etc. into the bedroom. Find another place to store these items.
- Remove outdoor play or work clothes ideally before entering bedroom . Change clothes in bathroom or other room where clean clothes are kept, and put pollen-contaminated clothing in the laundry immediately. Hampers can hold the clothes till wash day provided this is not in the bedroom.
- Never throw contaminated clothing (clothes worn outdoors to play or work in yard ) onto the bed, or sit/lie on the bed with these clothes on. This would contaminate the bed with resultant prolonged exposure to the pollens all night long.
- Bathe or shower before bed, after being outdoors, especially if out in the wind or gardening, rolling or sitting on the grass, etc.
- Wash linens in hot water once a week to remove excess pollen that may have made its way into the room.
- Avoid opening windows during peak pollen seasons; or during peak pollen times of the day; pollen counts rise first thing in the morning when the sun comes up, and again in mid-afternoon when the wind is blowing.
2. Use a HEPA air filter to remove excess airborne pollen and other particulate matter.
- This is the only type of air filter/purifier which has been proven to eliminate pollen sized grains (very small, microns in diameter); we do not recommend non-HEPA systems such as ionizers and inexpensive small non-HEPA filters; due to lack of proof of efficacy in allergen removal.
- Run the unit on "HIGH" for 2-3 hours before bedtime, in the bedroom with doors and windows closed. This should clear out the majority of airborne particulates including pollen grains before you go in to sleep.
- Then it may either be turned to "LOW" for the night, or turned off at night; it depends on severity of allergies, and whether there are symptoms upon turning it off.
- Charcoal prefilters need to be replaced every 6-12 months, depending on use, and the actual HEPA filter should be replaced about every 3-5 years.
3. Men should avoid mustaches, as the hair tends to trap pollen and keep it directly under the nose where it can cause problems.
4. Contact lens wearers: frequently use lubricant or "rewetting" eyedrops to remove pollen and irritants which may be "stuck" to the lends causing additional eye symptoms. Soft lenses especially can "hold' pollen and irritants in your eyes, enhancing exposure during heavy pollen seasons. Clean lenses frequently during heavy pollen seasons.
1. Identify major sources of dust mite in the bedroom so that these can be removed or covered to reduce dust mite exposure. In general, the older the item, the more "organic" (plant or animal material) the contents, and the more humid it is kept (e.g. by frequent use of humidifier in the room, storage of a mattess or pillow in platic in the garage, or flooding or water damage to the walls or carpet), the more likely it will contain dust mites. The closer the item is to the patients face, the more likely he/she is to develop allergic symptoms.
- Feather pillow (especially if older than 6 months)
- Old mattress (especially bad are 20-30 year old mattresses)
- Old carpet (over about 5 years old)
- Old couch (over about 5 years old)
- Large bookcase in the bedroom, especially with old books (10 years or older)
- Wall hangings that are made from fabric (nonwashable), feathers, leather, rope, dried flowers, etc.
- Difficulty cleaning behind the bed
- Moldy areas on walls or behind furniture
2. Dust mites are best avoided in the following ways:
- Remove feather pillows: replace with new synthetic washable pillow. Pillow may be washed weekly, but an easier solution is to get dust mite proof encasings.
- Encase mattress with dust mite proof covers.
- Get a new mattress if old one is older than 10 years.
- Remove carpet if possible (hardwood floor or tile, linoleum would be better for elimination of allergen exposure)
- Remove from bedroom all old books, and enclose all remaining books in a cabinet or closet.
- Do not lie directly on the carpet; put a mat down first.
1. Avoid excessive humidity in the home:
- Do not use humidifiers in the bedroom ( encougages mold growth)
- No indoor plants except for succulents or cactus plants which do not require a lot of water.
- Avoid cut flowers in the home (move plants outside after one day)
- Avoid squeezy toys for the kids in the bathtub, which are difficult to drain of all moisture, therefore creating a perfect area for mold to grow, then be sprayed out into the air when the toy is squeezed.
- Avoid leaving wet towels or clothing in the hamper or on the floor, as this encourages mold growth.
2. Remove mold by killing it with bleach (Ajax or other sodium hypochlorite product would be fine). Scrub it on, leave for 20 minutes, then scrub off.
3. Particularly stubborn mold regrowth walls should be painted with mold-resistant additive, and any leaks repaired.
4. Keep a 40-watt light bulb on at all times, shining on areas of recurrent mold growth (closets, behind dressers, etc), and/or a dehumidifier which also needs to be cleaned frequently to avoid this becoming another source of mold.
5. Avoid storing leather items in closets that tend to be moldy (especially in the bedroom):
- Leather skate
6. Avoid having many bottles and containers in the shower stall, as each will tend to support mold growth underneath, especially if not frequently used.
7. Check the refrigerator and pantry weekly for old food or mold growth on foods. Also, mold on bread may contribute to symptoms by inhalation of the spores.
8. Cut flowers become moldy within a day or two (on the stems); frequently change water, and expect to throw them out after a week or less.
1. Cats: This antigen is the most potent known: a cat can walk through a carpeted home once, and antigen from the cat can be found in the carpet 5 years later.
2. Dogs: Yes, you can be more symptomatic around one dog than another; this could be due to allergy to multiple dog allergens in the pelt and hair of certain species of dogs. There is no such thing as a "hypoallergenic dog"; it is not worse to have a longhaired dog than a shorthaired one from an allergy standpoint.
3. Hamsters, Rats, Mice, Etc.: While we do not test specifically for these, the tendency to develop additional hypersensitivites to furry animals is high if there is already a known allergy to another type of animal. We do not recommend any indoor furry animals for patients with allergic tendencies. If you already have a pet, it is best to at least keep the pet out of the bedroom to avoid accumulation of allergen in that environment.
4. Reptiles: While certainly not as problematic to most people with allergies, it is possible to become sensitized to the urine, saliva, or dander of any animal. Repeated scratches from the animal, or direct contact with the skin, speeds the sensitization process.
5. Fish: No problem as long as the tank is kept clean and mold-free. We worry more about fish bowls (unfiltered water), which tend to get moldy and need frequent water changes. The bedroom is not a good place for the fish.
6. Horses: Lots of these animals in RPV and RHE, RH. Many allergic people as well; degree of severity of symptoms is variable. No allergy shots are available for this at this time (no literature to support efficacy of immunotherapy for horse). Avoidance, bathing after contact, and preventative medications for usual symptoms are recommended.
- Keep animals out of the house if serious allergy; if milder, just keeping them out of the bedroom may suffice.
- Wash animals weekly if possible to reduce antigen exposure.
- Spray with "Allerpet-C (cat), -D (dog), or -B (bird)" or similar product to reduce exposure to allergen from dander.
- Never sleep with an animal on the bed if there is a positive skin test reaction to it, even if symptoms are minimal at this time. It is likely that symptoms will worsen with continued exposure.