You finally got the keys to the new house, moved in with your loved ones, unboxed everything, settled in, and then, one fine day, your eyes start to scratch, you get a runny nose, your skin starts to itch… what?! The new house is not so perfect after all: you’ve got indoor allergies!
But you’re like “how can this be possible?! I didn’t have any skin allergy back in the old house!”. Yes, allergies can be very geocentric because bacteria will change its active principle according to environmental factors like humidity and wind, and depending on the strength of your immune system, your body did not provide any reaction whenever you got yourself exposed to a place filled with harming and common household allergens. However, that was probably because you didn’t get exposed for a prolonged time. Now that you have indoor allergens as roommates, you are finally feeling their presence.
And the interesting thing is that there are A LOT of different types of indoor allergies; sometimes one person can be affected by two or three of them at the same time! With that in mind, we have assembled a list of - some unusual, some very common - indoor allergies that could be creeping up on you and your house’s residents.
Dust Mite Allergy
Gross note before we get to the first of our indoor allergies: did you know that dust mites are distant cousins to spiders? They had to be, right? Yikes! Dust Mite allergy is one of the most common types of allergy there is. Thankfully, it’s also one of the easiest to prevent. As with most common household allergens, maintaining a clean environment is important, and the bed is where the danger lies (double entendre there, folks!). If you get your mattress and pillows enclosed by dust-proof or allergen impermeable covers and wash them (and the bedding and blankets) once a week in hot water, you will reduce the chances of dust mite allergy in a big way. Pay attention to all sorts of fabrics in the bedroom: carpets are not a good idea. Bare floors like tile, wood or linoleum are better to avoid dust mite allergy, as you will be able to – by using a damp mop or rag – remove most of the dust. But beware: it needs to be wet! Do not use dry ones; it will only stir up the dust mite allergens. If you don’t want to replace thick fabric curtains and upholstered furniture, at least clean it (vacuum it) thoroughly and frequently.
Also, try maintaining the house at about 50% humidity or below using a dehumidifier or air conditioner. That’s something that people might not realize when fighting dust mite allergy or any other type: it’s better to have the air conditioner on the whole time than opening the window, as the wind carry much of these common household allergens inside the home. Just make sure you clean (or even replace) the AC filter every now and then.
Allergy to mold
While dust mite allergy shows itself mainly by runny noses and sneezes, when it comes to allergy to mold, the signs of allergies are more commonly by way of skin allergy, mainly itching eyes. Oh, this one is a pain in the behind, and, interestingly, it affects infants less than grown-ups. Actually, this is something that is generally not exclusive to mold allergy: children have a more functioning immune system compared to adults, as their cell production is much bigger than ours.
People who have an allergy to mold usually have their immune system overreact when exposed to mold, making the body cough, itch (and then provoke puffy and watery eyes and sometimes even hives!). Those signs of allergies are even more bad news for people with asthma, as they may experience wheezing, difficulty in breathing and throat irritation. The treatment to indoor allergies like mold involves nasal sprays and allergy shots, but there are also non-conventional methods like a psychological treatment of your immune system, where the doctor gradually exposes it to mold in small quantities so it learns how to deal with it. But, man! Talk about resilience, right? Suffering through the pain of skin allergy and shortness of breath to fight allergy to mold is for the wicked strong (or the masochist).
The worst thing about it is that mold can be anywhere. It’s a common household allergen, but it’s also one that can be found outdoors. It spreads itself via mold spores that travel through the air, and all it needs is a moist dark environment to blossom. The best thing a person with an allergy to mold should do is act on the prevention. And there is a lot of stuff outside from the general “keep your house clean so the common household allergens keep away”. For instance: you can avoid certain food that is prone to grow mold – generally green spots that become fuzzy. Cheese, Bread and other food made of yeast, Mushrooms, sour cream, sour milk, jarred food (pickles, jams, and jellies), dried fruits… if you can’t avoid them, always pay attention to their state before eating. Don’t think you can cut down the piece where the mold is located and eat the rest! If it’s there, its root has spread throughout the food - even if not visible - and you might feel the effects.
The humidity in the home should be below 45 percent to fight this specific type of indoor allergy. There’s a lot of good smart home devices to measure and monitor the humidity indoors; get one so you can automate and avoid remembering it when it’s too late and your body is suffering an allergic reaction. Now, while, once again, a humidifier and an air conditioner will go a long way in the battle, you need to make sure the airflow is good inside your house. Especially in places like the bathroom, where a lot of water and humidity gets entrapped. A window or an exhauster will dry the place a bit and help unwelcoming mold. Once you are out of your bath, leave the door open for a while so the air flows a little. And always look for water leaks in and out of the house (mainly: gutters). That’s why is so important to clean gutters: leaves and debris overwork the pipes and it can cause leaking and produce an allergy to mold.
Can you believe Grass Allergy is a thing? Yes, although it is far from being common, there are people that have an allergy to grass. To be 100% correct, the right way would be to call it an allergy to pollen; but since there are different types of pollen, people refer to it as a grass allergy, because this one grows exclusively on grass. Grass allergy symptoms comprise of the classic allergic rhinitis; sneezing, runny nose, stuffy nose, and itchy nose. Just like a dust mite allergy, right? But (here comes the pun) there’s more to the whole nine yards of grass allergy symptoms, as one might feel facial pressure and the asthma symptoms common on people with an allergy to mold: cough, wheezing, shortness of breath. If it gets into the blood system due to a wound, it may even cause anaphylaxis!
So, in reality, a grass allergy is the worst of both worlds! We guess it’s one point extra for artificial grass on the natural grass vs. artificial grass debate… the good news is that the pollen that is the active principle to a grass allergy is more seasonal: usually, late spring season (April to July) is when the pollens scatter in the wind. Differently from the ones moved by insects, grass pollen just gets scattered in the wind and into your home - that’s why we include it as one of the indoor allergies; although it is mainly “born” on the outside of the home, it always creeps inside.
Best prevention is to keep your lawn always short because when it’s short it doesn’t pollinate. However, when doing those great and needed spring landscaping ideas to improve curb appeal and sell your house – if you don’t have someone else to do it for you – wear a mask to protect your nose and eyes and, why not, take an antihistamine before doing it. Always change clothes when coming from a few hours outside – clean the pollens away! And that goes for other resident’s clothes too, as they may carry pollen from outside. Wiping off your dog’s fur is also important. And, of course, avoid direct contact with the grass.
Even if you don’t have any indoor allergies yourself, fighting them can only be beneficial to you. It will be an easy pass for home sellers who go to visit your home and suffer immediate indoor allergy symptoms, and, even if you don’t plan on selling your home, it won’t hurt to have a cleaner healthier household, right?