Common Household Allergens

If your eyes itch and water, your nose runs and your head aches, it may not be allergy season, it may be the allergens in your home. Allergens may also be the cause of asthma and other respiratory ailments, skin rashes and a sore throat. Eliminating the source of some of those allergens will help alleviate your symptoms, but first you need to identify them. Here are some common household allergens.

Moulds.
Mould grows in dark, humid locations such as your bathroom, leaky areas such as your roof or around your plumbing, and basements. Moulds can also be found in not-so-common areas like your refrigerator, carpets, washing machine, old pillows, closets and wood panels. Eliminating the sources of those moulds are as simple as throwing out any mildewed or mouldy fabrics or as complicated as replacing your carpet and repairing leaks. Use bleach or products with bleach on surfaces that can take it, like your tub or tile. Keep the humidity level in your home between 30 and 40 percent.

Dust Mites.
These microscopic insects live on dead human skin cells (which comprises most of the dust in your home) among other things. The mite itself doesn’t cause your allergic symptoms. Its droppings do. When you stir up the dust in your home, it sends these dropping flying into the air, which suspend there for up to 20 minutes! They also live and thrive in your bedding and in high humidity. If you’ve been looking for an excuse to leave your bed unmade, here it is. Air your bed out all day. Keep your home’s humidity below 64 percent, and wash your bedding in hot water.

Pets.
Pets, even small pets such as hamsters, gerbils, and birds, all produce allergens — dander, urine, saliva, hair and droppings. If you have a severe allergy to animals, the only cure is to get rid of them. Barring that drastic measure, there’s little you can do to eliminate the source of pet allergens. You can reduce them by isolating your pets from living areas, keeping them off your furniture and carpets, and leaving them outdoors as much as possible. Birds and reptiles also carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans. Young children and babies are particularly susceptible.

Cockroaches.
In a class by themselves, these pests are another allergen producer. Once again, the droppings are to blame. Cockroaches prefer dark places with sources of food, like behind refrigerators and stoves and around your plumbing under the sink. They reproduce quickly and prolifically, so hire a professional if you find one. And it only takes one to produce a colony. To keep them at bay, seal cracks, clean up food spills immediately, store food in tight containers, seal garbage containers, and repair leaks.