Guest Post By Genevieve Kane, MSN, RN
Despite your best cleaning efforts, if you have a little one with allergies, allergens may be hiding in unsuspected places. Whether your child has seasonal allergies and is allergic to environmental allergens such as pollen or they’re allergic to indoor culprits such as dust, it is essential to minimize their exposure to whatever they may be allergic to.
Here’s Where Allergens Are Hiding in Your Home
Here are five places you may need to think of when trying to reduce allergens in your home.
Dust Mite Hideouts
Dust mites thrive in warm, humid environments. So when people think of dust mites, they may only think of sheets and bedding, which tend to be warmer and more humid environments from people sleeping there. Dust mites in bedding and mattresses may also be why your child’s allergies are worse at night.
However, while many parents and caregivers know dust mites live in bedding and may put protective covers on mattresses and pillows, dust mites can also live in other areas of the home.
Any carpeted or upholstered surface can house dust mites. To minimize them, wash curtains and rugs regularly, vacuum frequently with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter, and clean upholstered furniture and carpets. If you live in a humid environment, consider running a dehumidifier to decrease the humidity in your home.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explains that mold spores are invisible to the naked eye. Furthermore, they naturally float around in the environment. To grow, the spores need to land on wet surfaces. Mold can grow both indoors and outside.
Some individuals are allergic to mold, and even if you or your child aren’t allergic to mold, it can potentially cause several health issues if it grows indoors. However, there are measures you can take to reduce mold exposure. These measures include:
- Making sure you clean, dry, and repair water leaks in your home as soon as possible and ideally no later than 48 hours after the spill. If you rent, let your landlord or rental property management know about the issue as soon as you identify a problem.
- When you notice condensation, such as on a window pane, wipe it down.
- Use a dehumidifier if you live somewhere with higher humidity.
- Keep structural aspects of your home free from collecting water. This includes ensuring water slopes away from your foundation, roof gutters are repaired and clean, and air conditioner drip pans are kept clean and drain lines clear.
If you see mold in your home, it can often be scrubbed. However, if the surface is porous, such as ceiling tiles, it may need to be pitched and replaced. If you do mold abatement on your own, follow the recommendations provided by the EPA to reduce your mold exposure. This includes wearing an appropriately fitted respirator, gloves, and goggles. In some cases, the mold may need to be remediated by a professional.
Outdoor Allergens Sneaking Inside
If you or your child has seasonal allergies, be cautious about accidentally letting the allergens inside! To reduce outdoor allergens from entering your home keep windows closed, if possible, during peak allergy days.
Other ways allergens can be tracked inside that aren’t so obvious include on pets and family members. For example, a pet may track pollen or other outdoor allergens inside on their paws and fur. A good idea to help with this is to wipe their feet and body down with a towel when they come inside.
Additionally, allergens can stick to your hair, shoes, and clothes if you or your children have been playing outside. Take shoes off before coming inside, change clothes, and rinse off after outdoor play to reduce allergens getting tracked around the house.
Smoke and Smoking
If someone in your household smokes, even if they smoke outdoors or change clothes afterwards, it can still cause problems for young children. Particles from the smoke can settle in hair and cause irritation when a baby or young child is held or snuggled.
Additionally, smoke from wood burning fireplaces can also create soot, smoke particles in the air, and subsequent allergy symptoms.
There are several other irritants in a home that can contribute to allergy symptoms and irritation. This includes being sensitive to the strong smells of essential oils, perfumes, and candles. Spray air fresheners and other strongly scented household items may also cause issues.
If your little one is showing signs of allergy symptoms—like a runny nose, congestion, or watery eyes—pay attention to your home environment. If the symptoms started after you lit a candle, it could be as simple as avoiding candles. If it’s a high pollen count day or other high outdoor allergen day, consider closing windows when appropriate and running an air conditioner instead.
Both mold and dust mites love moisture. So if your indoor air is humid, a dehumidifier can help with this issue.
Some indoor allergens, such as mold, can be more challenging to spot depending on where it is growing. Some molds are obvious, and others may hide behind wet surfaces.
Fortunately if the cause of your child’s allergy symptoms are known, there are several steps you can take to reduce allergens hiding in your home. However, if you are having difficulty figuring out the cause and your child is experiencing symptoms, your child’s primary care provider is a great place to start. They can help walk you through possible causes as well as refer you to any allergy testing as needed.
Looking for more about allergies? Try these:
- How Do Seasonal Allergies Differ Between Babies and Toddlers?
- Why Are Allergies Worse At Night?
- 6 Foods That Help Calm Seasonal Allergies
- Spring Allergies Are Here: What Parents Need to Know
- Do You Know The Difference in Children's Allergy Medication?
- 3 Tips For Allergy Relief
- Can Babies Have Seasonal Allergies?
Genevieve Kane, MSN, RN, is a mother of four and a registered nurse with a background in pediatrics. When she's not working, you can find her cooking up tasty family dinners or keeping up with her kids on a hiking trail in her home state of Colorado.
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