Allergic Rhinitis | Prevention

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How can I avoid allergens?

Pollens. Shower or bathe before bedtime to wash off pollen and other allergens in your hair and on your skin. Avoid going outside, especially on dry, windy days. Keep windows and doors shut, and use an air conditioner at home and in your car.

Mold. You can reduce the amount of mold in your home by removing houseplants and by frequently cleaning shower curtains, bathroom windows, damp walls, areas with dry rot and indoor trash cans. Use a mix of water and chlorine bleach to kill mold. Open doors and windows and use fans to increase air movement and help prevent mold.

Don't carpet bathrooms or other damp rooms and use mold-proof paint instead of wallpaper. Reducing the humidity in your home to 50% or less can also help. You can control your home air quality by using a dehumidifier, keeping the temperature set at 70 degrees, and cleaning or replacing small-particle filters in your central air system.

Pet dander. If your allergies are severe, you may need to give your pets away or at least keep them outside. Cat or dog dander often collects in house dust and takes 4 weeks or more to die down.

However, there are ways to reduce the amounts of pet dander in your home. Using allergen-resistant bedding, bathing your pet frequently, and using an air filter can help reduce pet dander. Ask your veterinarian for other ways to reduce pet dander in your home.

Dust and dust mites. To reduce dust mites in your home, remove drapes, feather pillows, upholstered furniture, non-washable comforters and soft toys. Replace carpets with linoleum or wood. Polished floors are best. Mop the floor often with a damp mop and wipe surfaces with a damp cloth. Vacuum regularly with a machine that has a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. Vacuum soft furniture and curtains as well as floors. Install an air cleaner with a high-efficiency particulate or electrostatic filter. Wash carpets and upholstery with special cleaners, such as benzyl benzoate or tannic acid spray. Wash all bedding in hot water (hotter than 130°F) every 7 to 10 days. Don't use mattress pads. Cover mattress and pillows with plastic covers. Lower the humidity in your home using a dehumidifier.

Things that can make your allergy symptoms worse

  • Aerosol sprays
  • Air pollution
  • Cold temperatures
  • Humidity
  • Irritating fumes
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Wind
  • Wood smoke

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 04/14
Created: 01/96

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