Tips for Managing
and Avoiding Common Allergens
- Tips on Mold
- How to Avoid
- Managing Food Allergies
- Dust Mite Avoidance and Treatment
There are some simple
things you can do to help manage your pollen allergies:
Wash your hair before you go to
Because pollen accumulates on
your hair, washing it before you go to bed can keep it from
getting on your pillow, where it will remain until you wash
Change your clothes as soon as you come
Changing your clothes after spending a lot of time outdoors
can help prevent carrying pollen into and around the
hang clothing or bed linens outdoors to dry
can easily stick to fabrics when they're left outdoors to
Keep windows closed and use air
Keeping the windows closed in
your home and car helps keep pollen out. Once it gets
inside, it can continue to circulate in the air for
Try to avoid being outdoors when
Pollen counts are highest in the late
morning and early afternoon. If possible, avoid spending
time outdoors during these times.
Wear a mask
and/or goggles when working in the
This can reduce your exposure to pollen,
especially when working outdoors for extended periods of
Monitor pollen levels
plan your activities around seasonal trends in pollen
counts. Visit our home page often- we provide a simple
link that provides pollen count information for our
Plan vacations in appropriate
During peak pollen season, try to choose a
vacation area where pollen is less severe.
your pet often
Pets can accumulate a lot of pollen
on their fur, especially if they spend a lot of time
outdoors. Try to wash or rinse them off before allowing
them back in the house.
Visit our office to
investigate treatment options
One of our
allergists can explain various treatment options. Many
of the newest medications are extremely effective with
minimal risks or side effects. We can also prescribe an
immunization program tailored to your specific allergies that
can significantly reduce, or even eliminate, your allergy
Tips on Mold Avoidance
Mold allergy is
similar to pollen allergy in its symptoms and treatment.
However, the growth and spore dispersal of many
molds are not as seasonal as that of pollen.
Click here to learn more about how mold forms. Most molds
can grow indoors as well as outdoors and people allergic to
them may have symptoms that last for longer periods of time,
recur more often throughout the year, or are associated with
specific environments where molds tend to flourish.
Indoor Mold Spores
colonies may not be large or colorful enough to be seen with
the naked eye, but can usually be suspected in obvious
locations. Indoor fungal colonization and spore densities
can be reduced by modifying the conditions under which fungi
Repair plumbing and roofing, seal basement
walls where they contact outside soil, remove plant and leaf
litter near the house, and decrease inside moisture. You
can reduce indoor humidity by increasing ventilation, using
dehumidifiers, silica gel, or incandescent lights in small
rooms such as closets. Using air conditioning, removing
aquariums and indoor houseplants can also help. Use home mist
vaporizers as infrequently as
Eliminate organic materials that mold
Remove dust and soil frequently with a
vacuum or wet mop. Remove older stuffed furnture, wool
rugs, cotton window coverings, toys, and stored paper
products. Try to seal clothing in plastic bags, encase
pillows and mattresses in vinyl, and throw away old mattresses
and pillows. Minimize indoor house plants, wicker
baskets, jute, and hemp products. Try to use synthetic
furnishings and textiles for home decorating. Clean
refrigerator drip pans, air conditioning coils and condensate
pans, and dehumidifier reservoirs on a regular
basis. Finally, change filters in forced air (air
conditioning and heating) systems often.
fungicides vs. germicides
Fungicides intended for
agricultural or nursery use can be used sparingly
outside the home (there are no longer safe
fungicides that can be used indoors). However, common
household germicides such as Lysol or Tylex can help to kill
many indoor molds. An ordinary mixture of 50% water and
bleach can decontaminate basement and bathroom floors and
walls as well as many other areas (be sure not to
use it on places that can damage furniture, walls, or
paint). Many paints are also now available with special
Air filtration, either used as part of an
existing forced air system or a single room unit, has been
shown to be very effective in reducing indoor spore and pollen
densities. These are available at local heating and air
conditioning suppliers. Two recommended types are high
efficiency mechanical filtration or electronic precipitation
Exposure to high concentrations of outdoor
mold spores can be reduced. Precautions include:
decaying organic material
Avoid piles of leaves,
decaying vegetation, gardens, compost heaps, and other areas
associated with higher mold
Remove dense vegetation near
Remove plant debris and dense
vegetation from areas around the house including windows and
Avoid certain outdoor activities
Avoid lawn mowing and raking as well as
agricultural areas such as barns, stacked hay, or stored grain
(especially during harvest time) whenever possible.
During periods of high mold spore concentration, try to limit
the amount of time spent outdoors. Wear a face mask if
||How to Avoid Stinging Insects|
Unlike biting insects such as
mosquitoes, flies, and fleas, stinging insects do not
seek sustenance from people. They sting only for
self defense or in defense of their nest. Understanding
these insects can go a long way in helping you to avoid
them. Honeybees generally travel in a
straight line from a flower to their hive. Most stings
occur when someone either interrupts them in flight or they
strike a flower on which a bee is gathering pollen.
Honeybees are attracted to flower fragrances, bright colors,
and smooth water surfaces. Fragrant perfumes, colognes, and
powders also attract them. The odor of some house paints has
actually been known to excite honeybees and make them behave
aggressively. For safety, clothing should be light in
color. Hair should be worn short or tied up during the
summer months to avoid entanglements that can cause
stings. Wasps feed on the larvae of
other insects which they kill with repeated stings. The
adult wasp lives on juices, sap and nectar. They are attracted
by odors such as spoiling foods, soft drinks, fruit juices,
leather, bright colors, and a water supply.
Yellow jackets make their nests in the
ground. Paper hornets' nests may be
close to the ground or high above it. Therefore, both of
these insects are hazardous to bare feet and ankles. If
a person is stung and can't identify the insect, see if the
stinger is embedded at the area of the sting. If it is,
chances are it was a honeybee. Wasps do not embed their
Here are some other guidelines to help in
avoiding insect stings:
Generally, the first rule when a stinging
insect approaches is to stay still, always move slowly. Try to
wear protective clothing. Never slap or brush off
these insects as they will not sting unless frightened or
Be careful with what you
leave on the ground
Be cautious when you shake out
clothing or blankets that has been left on the ground (wasps
or other stinging insects could be present in the
Avoid flowery areas
Try to avoid orchards in bloom, clover fields, or
any other areas abundant with flowers. If you can't,
avoid dark clothing and don't wear perfume or hair sprays-
they attract stinging insects.
Try to avoid
yard work during dangerous seasons
don't mow lawns, trim hedges, or prune trees during dangerous
collisions can cause stings, so try to minimize running,
riding horses, bicycles, or motorcycles as much as
possible. Riding in a convertible with the top down is
Teach children to avoid
Warn children not to throw sticks or
stones at nests. Remember, stinging insects respond in
self defense to their nest!
Inspect for nests in the early spring
and make periodic inspections all summer until a hard frost
(allergic individuals should not participate). Locate
yellow jacket nests during the day and
destroy them at night when the insects have returned home
At least two applications of gasoline, kerosene, or lye are
needed in the hole where the yellow jackets have nested. Do
not light the gas or kerosene- the fumes do the job!
Wear protective clothing or call an exterminator if you are
uncertain how to proceed. Wasps' nests
can be knocked down with a long stick or broom handle
after spraying the nest with insecticide.
Hornet's nests should be removed by an
exterminator or the local fire department.
Bee's nests can often be removed and
relocated by a beekeeper.
Keep a "bee cloth" or
insecticide in your car
Keep a bee cloth or
insecticide in the glove compartment in car to
trap frightened insects before they
Managing Food Allergies
Avoid the food
The best way to treat food allergy is to avoid the specific foods that trigger
Ask about ingredients
To avoid eating a "hidden" food allergen away from home, food-allergic individuals
must always ask about ingredients when eating at restaurants or others' homes and make the seriousness
of their allergy known. Poorly informed people may think that "picking" the ingredient out of a dish they
are about to serve is fine. Although just smelling peanut butter will not cause a
reaction, sometimes food allergens can be airborne, especially in steam, and this can sometimes cause reactions.
Boiling or simmering seafoods have been known to cause reactions. Talk to our allergists about more
things to watch for in homes and restaurants.
Read food labels
It is important for those with food allergies to carefully read food labels.
The United States and many other countries have adopted food labeling rules that ensure food
allergens are listed in common language, such as "milk" rather than a scientific or technical
term, like "casein." However, since this was just enacted in 2006, it is still prudent
for food allergic people to become familiar with technical or scientific names for foods.
For example, wheat may sometimes be listed as gluten.
Be prepared for emergencies
Anaphylactic reactions caused by food allergies can be potentially
life-threatening. Those who have experienced an anaphylactic reaction to a food must strictly
avoid that food. They may need to carry and know how to use injectable epinephrine and
antihistamines to treat reactions due to accidental ingestion. People who are commonly around
the patient, such as spouses, co-workers, school administrators and staff such as school nurses,
teachers or daycare workers, should also know how to use the injectable epinephrine ("epi pens"). Those with
food allergies should also wear an identification bracelet that describes the allergy. If you
have an anaphylactic reaction after eating a food, it is essential that you have someone take
you to the emergency room, even if symptoms subside. For proper diagnosis and treatment, make
sure to get follow-up care from an allergist/immunologist.
|| Dust Mite Avoidance and Treatment|
Exposure efforts should focus on the bedroom, where dust mite numbers are the highest
(and where most people spend a third of their lives). Prioritize your steps, focusing
on things that are easy, but can have the greatest impact in reducing your exposure.
Start with the bedroom
Encase pillows, mattresses, and box springs in allergen impermeable covers.
These include either plastic or vapor permeable fabrics. Another option is to buy a new pillow
manufactured with an allergen barrier outer fabric.
Click here to learn more about encasing
options. If you have more than one pillow on the bed, all of them should be encased.
Additionally, chemical protein denaturing agents such as tannic acid may be sprayed on bedding
surfaces to reduce dust mite allergenicity.
Use washable blankets, and wash all bedding in hot water (130 degrees fahrenheit or greater)
every two weeks.
This will kill any live dust mites and also wash away accumulated allergens.
If possible, replace your comforter with a special one manufactured with an allergen barrier
outer fabric. Even these need to be washed frequently since they can be colonized by dust mites.
If possible, remove the bedroom carpet and any upholsterted or fabric items.
A wipeable floor (hardwood or tile) is preferable. Washable throw rugs can be used.
Remove stuffed toys, throw pillows, upholstered furniture, and any other non-washable,
non-wipeable items from the bedroom.
Clean your home
Clean when the allergic person is not at home.
If the patient does the cleaning, consider a facemask, and even goggles.
Clean frequently with a good quality vacuum
Use a vacuum that traps allergens and prevents them from blowing back out through the exhaust.
Most vacuums can be inexpensively improved simply by using high filtration bags. Focus on "dust
collecting areas" such as behind and around beds and near bookcases.
Extend the measures for the bedroom into other rooms in the home
Extend bedroom measures into other rooms that you spend a lot of time in such as the family room.
Avoid carpeting and upholstered furniture wherever possible.
Wash and dry clean clothing frequently.
Keep clean clothing in a closet with the door shut and store woolens in individual plastic bags.
Control your air
Keep humidity below 50% to prevent dust mite growth entirely.
Lesser decreases in humidity still suppress growth to some degree. Use air
conditioning in the summer, supplemented with an additional dehumidifier. Avoid using a
humidifier in the winter. If one is used, monitor humidity levels with a gauge and keep
relative humidity below 45-50%.
It should be noted that the use of air filtration systems (or duct cleaning) is not generally
helpful for managing dust mite allergies since dust mites cling to carpet or bedding surfaces
and are not airborne for the most part.
Discuss allergy shots with your allergist
Most studies have shown that allergy shots against dust mites significantly reduce symptoms.