Tips to minimize allergens inside your home
- Dust mites–Dust mites are found in mattresses, carpets and upholstered furniture. They thrive in warm, humid conditions and feed on the shed scales of human skin. The best way to prevent allergy symptoms caused by dust mites is to limit your child's exposure. Be sure to pay special attention to the bedroom where your child spends the most amount of his or her time.
- Cockroaches–Some people are very allergic to the substance the cockroach leaves behind. Cockroaches are very common in warm climates and in homes of people living in the city. However, even in climates with much cooler temperatures, the use of central heat allows the cockroaches to live. To avoid exposure to cockroaches, it is best to use roach traps or a professional exterminator.
- Beds–Every bed in your house should have wooden or metal frames. Do not allow your child to sleep on a couch, sofa or hide-a-bed. If your child has asthma and sleeps in a bunk bed, he or she should sleep in the top bunk.
- Mattress/box spring–Place all mattresses and box springs in a zippered, dust-proof cover and tape over the zippers with electrical or duct tape.
- Pillows–Encase pillows in zippered, dust-proof covers. Pillows should be made of Dacron or other synthetic fiber. Do not use foam, feather or down pillows.
- Bedding–Avoid wool blankets and down comforters. Wash all bedding (sheets, pillowcases, blankets) in hot water. Cold water will not kill the dust mites. Dry all clothes and bedding in the dryer to avoid pollen sticking to them when on a clothesline.
- Floor coverings–If possible, remove wall-to-wall carpeting. If removing carpeting is not possible, vacuum the carpet once a week. If your child has asthma, only vacuum when your child is away and will not return to the room for several hours after you have finished. Substitute multi-layered vacuum bags for regular single-layer bags. Small, washable cotton rugs may be used if washed often. Wood, tile or vinyl flooring without a rug is best, and it should be mopped at least weekly.
- Closets–Remove all stored toys, boxes and other articles from closets. The closet should contain only clothing and should be as dust-free as the room. Keep all clothes in closets, never lying around the room.
- Furnace (heating)–Electric or gas heat is recommended. Do not use wood stoves or kerosene heaters. Change the air filters on the furnace every month. Cover all furnace outlets in the room with special filters or cover the outlets with 10 thicknesses of cheesecloth or muslin. This will catch dust in the furnace air. Change the cheesecloth when it gets dusty underneath (about every 2 weeks).
- Air purifier–A HEPA filter unit of the proper size can effectively remove airborne allergens.
- Air conditioners–Window unit or central air-conditioning is ideal. Change or clean all filters every month. Windows should be kept closed, especially in the summer.
- Animal dander–Pets that have fur or feathers often cause allergy troubles. If your child is allergic to animal dander (the skin of the animal), it is best not to have pets and not to visit homes with these pets.
- Bathrooms and kitchens–Always use the exhaust fans when cooking or bathing. If you see mold/mildew, clean the area with cleansers made with bleach.
- Doors–Keep bedroom closet doors and bedroom doors closed as much as possible.
- Walls–Paint walls or use washable wallpaper. Avoid pennants, pictures, wreaths, flower arrangements or other dust catchers on the walls.
- Window coverings–Avoid heavy curtains and mini blinds. Use window shades instead. If curtains are used, they should be washed monthly in hot water.
- Humidifier–Avoid the use of humidifiers. Dust mites grow best in high humidity. Use a dehumidifier to keep humidity in the home less than 50 percent.
- Furniture–Remove all upholstered (stuffed) furniture and replace upholstered furniture with wooden or plastic furniture. Avoid open bookshelves, as they are great dust catchers.
- Sleeping and napping–Your child should nap or sleep only in his or her own bed, which has been made dust free. When your child travels or visits, he or she should take along a non-allergic pillow.
- Playing–If your child has asthma, do not allow him or her to jump on furniture or beds nor wrestle on carpeted floors. Avoid fabric toys or stuffed animals. If your child has stuffed animals they should be machine washable and washed in hot water or placed in the freezer overnight at least weekly. Store toys in a closed toy chest.
- Your child needs exercise. Even though exercise is a common asthma trigger, your child should not limit his or her participation in sports and exercise, unless directed by a doctor. Some forms of exercise such as running long distances and playing basketball may be harder for your child to do. Activities such as swimming, golf, and karate are good choices for children with asthma. Always make sure your child has a warm-up and cool-down period before and after exercise. Using a reliever medication 15 to 20 minutes before starting exercise can be very helpful, as directed by your child's doctor. Ask your child's doctor about exercise and asthma if this is a problem for your child.
- Do not allow family and friends to smoke anywhere inside the house. Do not allow smoking in the car at any time. Smoke is very irritating in an enclosed area. Its odor may be trapped in the car's upholstery for a long period of time and continue to trigger symptoms. When eating out, always sit in non-smoking sections of restaurants. You also should have non-smoking child care providers.
- Avoid strong perfumes and odors. Your child should avoid things that have a strong smell such as cleaning products, perfumes, hair spray, tar, fresh paint, gasoline, insect sprays and room deodorizers.
- Be sure to take asthma and allergy medications as prescribed by your doctor, and to keep regularly scheduled appointments.
- Make sure children with asthma receive a yearly flu shot.
- Encourage frequent hand-washing.
- Make sure your child's teacher knows about the asthma and what to look for. Give the school a quick relief inhaler and spacer.
Request an appointment
Click here schedule an appointment with the Asthma, Allergy and Clinical Immunology Center at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin.