Allergies During the Holiday Season

Allergies During the Holiday Season

Mould & Mildew

Mould spores float in the air like pollen and your exposure to it may increase during the holidays because they love damp evergreens like the wreaths, boughs and trees we bring inside this time of year.

How to control Mould Allergies:

A 2011 study performed by staff at the SUNY Upstate Medical University and published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology found that a Christmas tree could increase the number of mould spores in an apartment by about 6 and a half times1!

Christmas trees and wreaths carry mould spores. If mould affects you, you may consider making the switch to artificial decorations. If you simply can’t do without your Christmas tree then there are other ways to keep mould to a minimum. Hose plants down before bringing them inside to get rid of existing spores.

Artificial decorations can indeed reduce allergy but they too can become damp or grow mould. Ensure your artificial decorations are stored in dry containers and have been packaged correctly. 

Air purifiers, dehumidifiers and sprays that target mould can make a difference in tackling the spores that cause your allergic reaction.

Dust mites

These tiny allergens can be even more aggravating around the holidays when the air gets damp and we spend time in hotel rooms or staying with friends and relatives.

How to control Dustmite Allergies:

Dust mites are a well-known allergy and asthma trigger. Keep symptoms in check at home by changing air filters frequently, washing your bedding in hot water at 60 degrees weekly and by buying allergy-resistant encasement covers for pillows and mattress. Dust mites thrive in humidity, so a good way to keep indoor humidity between 30% and 50% is to invest in a dehumidifier.

During the holiday season you often find yourself staying with friends, relatives and in hotels. When travelling it’s a good idea to bring your own pillow with an anti-allergy protective cover. When staying in a hotel you can request a down-free pillow or even bring your own pillow encasements to keep allergic reactions to a minimum.

Food

The Holiday Season means lots of dining away from home, plenty of seasonal foods and lots of parties! All of which make it likely you’ll accidentally eat foods you’re allergic to.

Ways to control Food Allergies:

The first and best treatment for food allergies is to avoid what you’re allergic to. At seasonal gatherings with friends and family communication is key. Tell them about your food allergies, ask about ingredients in meals and desserts, discuss alternatives with them and ask for their help so you can avoid the foods you’re allergic to, the last thing your family or friends want is to make you unwell around the holiday season.

Pets

Symptoms of pet allergies can worsen around the holidays. Pets are indoors more, both at your house and in the homes of friends and family2.

Ways to control Pet Allergies:

To reduce the likelihood of a reaction for yourself or your visitors this holiday season there are a few things you can do. Firstly minimize your contact with pets and keep them strictly out of the bedrooms to reduce the amount of allergen in the room. Make sure to bathe your pets weekly, if possible, to wash away dander and other allergens from their fur. Change your clothes, bathe and wash your hair after playing with your pet and before going to bed[3]. Wash your hands and face frequently and keep your floors swept, and carpets vacuumed.

Air purifiers and sprays that target allergies to pets can make a difference in tackling the protein in the dander that causes your allergic reaction.

How to choose the right heater for your home

How to choose the right heater for your home

Did you know central heating can be bad for your allergies?

While you’re heating system may take away moisture, it adds something else to your indoor air – allergens! During warmer months when heat isn’t necessary, your space heater or central heating system can be home to a variety of irritants including dust, dust mites, mould spores, insect parts, pet dander, and more. When your heater is turned on, these allergens are distributed throughout your indoor space, causing irritating allergy and asthma symptoms. Fortunately, there are ways to heat your home that do not make your allergies worse.

What can you do to combat this?

Allergy sufferers usually find that radiant oil heaters are the best choice for their home. Since these heaters give off radiant heat, they do not have built in fans that can spread dust and other allergens throughout the room. The absence of a fan also means that these heaters also function completely silently. Not only do these heaters not emit gases or particle matter, neither do they create extra moisture in the air, therefore helping to prevent mould growth. If you’re looking for a heater that will keep you warm without making you sneeze, choose one that’s oil-filled.

Allergies to radiant heaters are uncommon. Most people tolerate the gentle heat of electric heaters quite well and the heaters can easily be cleaned to remove any dust or build-up that accumulates during the off-season. The heaters are portable and can be placed near drafty areas for the best results. Known as hypoallergenic heaters, many people with sensitive respiratory systems find that electric heaters provide the most comfortable heating solution.

Most radiant oil heaters are freestanding units that resemble old-fashioned wall radiators. They typically have multiple heat settings, which can be up to 3000 watts, and the unit can be adjusted to give the appropriate amount of heat without using too much electricity. Since the heaters typically weigh around 15kgs, most also come with wheels to make them easier for anyone to move them from room to room.

Oil contained within a radiant oil heater does not act as a fuel, so it never needs to be replaced. Radiant oil heaters are powered by electricity, which heats the oil. After the oil reaches the desired temperature, which is determined by the chosen setting, the heater stops pulling electricity from the outlet. The warm oil then radiates heat into the room, while electricity is only used again when the oil falls below a certain temperature. Radiant oil heaters not only cut down on overall energy use, but they are considered safer than other forms of heating as the oil is permanently sealed within the heater.

Steam Cleaner Buying Guide

Steam Cleaner Buying Guide

Why clean with steam?

Steam is extremely powerful when used to clean. Heating up to 120°C, the ‘dry steam’ produced by steam cleaners cuts through grease and grime, whilst also killing dust mites and bacteria.

Allergens can lurk in the hardest to reach areas in your home, and the build-up of dust mites, pollen, pet dander and other irritants can often leave you feeling unwell. Whilst regular vacuuming can help to reduce allergen levels, a deeper clean can be more easily achieved with a steam cleaner.

Steam is an excellent alternative to using chemicals and cleaning products, making it both a hygienic, allergy-friendly and eco-friendly way of cleansing your home. What’s more, your steam cleaner can be used to clean a multitude of surfaces, from carpets and upholstery, to tiles, windows, hard surface floors and more.

Steam cleaning can also reduce your cleaning schedule drastically. The amount of effort required or “scrubbing power” is lessened with the powerful steam, and as steam is ‘dry’ there’s no drying time required for floors and surfaces.

Key points to look out for?

Steam cleaners come in a range of shapes and sizes, depending on the main purpose of your steamer there are four main points to consider:

• Heat up Time – This is the length of time needed to convert the water in the water tank into steam, and can range from 20 seconds to over a minute.

Steam Time – This is the amount of steaming time you will have from one full tank of water. Steam time can last from 10 minutes to up to an hour, depending on the capacity of the water tank.

Water Tank Capacity – Larger water tanks will take longer to heat up, but will offer a longer steam time for extensive cleaning. If you’d rather use your machine little and often a smaller tank with a quicker heat up time might be better.

Power – Most steam cleaners range from a 900-1500 watt range. The higher the wattage, the greater the cleaning power. For smaller jobs, a 900 watt machine may suffice, but to remove tougher grease stains, or caked on dirt, a more heavy duty power will be needed.

What are the different types of steam cleaners?

Much like vacuum cleaners, steam cleaners are available in cylinder, upright or handheld styles. Some steam cleaners also offer a vacuuming function, our Polti Vaporetto Lecoaspira range use a water-based filter capturing the smallest of allergens.

Upright steam cleaners – Often referred to as steam mops, these upright steamers have a small water tank attached to the handle, heat up quickly and are lightweight to use. The smaller water tank means that they are ideal for quick and regular cleaning of smaller areas.

Cylinder steam cleaners – These tend to have a larger water tank, and whilst this means a longer heat up time, you will get the benefit of more steam time allowing for longer, more extensive cleaning of larger areas.

Handheld steam cleaners – With very small water tanks, handheld steam cleaners are perfect for quick use. They are very easy to use, compact to store, and ideal for use on a small scale.

Which surfaces can a steam cleaner be used on?

Steam cleaners can be used on:

Hard floors Ovens/Hobs Mattresses
Carpets BBQs Mirrors
Work Surfaces Upholstery Plants
Windows Taps/Sanitary ware Cars
Tiles/grouting Garments Garden Furniture

What accessories do I need?

Most steam cleaners will come with all you need for general cleaning jobs. But if you have specific needs more attachments are available separately such as:

• Cleaning Cotton Cloths and Socks – designed to collect dirt dislodged by steam.

• Squeegee – for cleaning windows or other glass surfaces.

• Shaped brushes – to access the most inaccessible areas of your home, corners etc.

Air Purifier Buying Guide

Air Purifier Buying Guide

What are air purifiers for?

Air purifiers improve the quality of the air that we breathe, by reducing harmful airborne particles and allergens. Including:

  • Pollen
  • Bacteria
  • Dust
  • Mite faeces
  • Mildew
  • Mould
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Odours
  • Some viruses

This is particular benefit to those who are allergic to these particles, e.g. asthmatics, and those who suffer from hay fever and respiratory problems, and can even help cold and flu viruses from spreading, resulting in a healthier home, that is cleaner and fresher.

What are the different types of air purifiers?

There are four different types of air purifiers, and they all have the same purpose – to improve that standard of air that we breathe.

The four different types are as follows:

Air Ioniser

Air ionisers produce steam, consisting of negatively charged ions, which will cling to the positively charged ions in the air (airborne allergen particles and dust).

When these particles join, they become heavy, and sink to the floor.

An example of an Air Ioniser purifier is Cleanaer or Bionaire.

Cleanaer can drastically improve the quality of air and help with conditions like asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, hay fever and other allergies.

The continuous release of liquid-ions ensures a constant flow to protect against the introduction of new particles, even from a sneeze! Once the particles are removed from the air, tests have proven that they remain locked down and do not recirculate.

HEPA Air Filter

HEPA is an acronym of High Efficient Particulate Air. To qualify as true HEPA, an air filter must remove 99.97% of all particles greater than 0.3 micrometer from the air that passes through. (Particles smaller than 0.3 microns are still trapped by HEPA filters but effectiveness is reduced to less than 99.97%.)

Most purifiers contain a HEPA filter (Highly Efficient Particular Air).  These filters remove 99.97% of pollutants in the air.

These filters are extremely useful for removing dirt, allergens, dust and mould particles, but do very little for removing bad odours or smoke.

If a HEPA purifier has an anti-bacterial pre-filter, larger particles will also be removed, and the filter should last longer.

Three HEPA filters offered are the Healthway, Bionaire and Blueair.

The HealthWay 20600-03 is one of the most advanced air purifiers on the market. This unique air purifier has been specifically designed to improve your indoor air environment by reducing airborne micro-organisms. It captures, holds and kills bacteria, viruses, mould and fungi.

A Blueair air purifier works efficiently, silently to remove 99.97% of allergens, asthma triggers, viruses, bacteria and other airborne pollutants.

Air sterilisation

Air sterilisation purifiers use technology to silently and effectively pull contaminated air in, by air convection. Contaminated air, such as pollen, pet allergens, viruses, fungi, mould, dust mites, odours and bacteria are all pulled in.

Once inside, air flow carries micro-organisms into the exclusive TSS sterilising chambers.

Inside these chambers, temperatures reach 400°F, incinerating all micro-organisms.

Sterilised air is then cooled and returned to the room.

An example of an air sterilisation air purifier is Airfree. Airfree air purifiers need no maintenance. There is no need to change filters or moving parts.

The TSS technology used in the Airfree air purifier is completely silent. With no fans or turbines, a good night’s sleep is guaranteed.  The Airfree air purifier uses less energy than a 40-60 w light bulb (dependant on the model chosen). It needs no maintenance or replacement parts and generates no waste.

The Airfree air purifier is easy to transport weighs less than 1.5 kg and takes up very little space.

Humidifiers

Humidifiers are an appliance used to add moisture to the air in a room of building.

Low humidity in a room occurs in hot or dry climates, or when indoor spaces are artificially heated.

Low humidity can cause a negative effect on your health, such as respiratory problems.

It can also have an impact on wooden furniture, leading them to shrink, and their joints to become loose or cracked.  Static electricity is heightened in low humidity, meaning dust and allergens will cling to surfaces, triggering asthma and allergies.

An example of a humidifier is Stadler or Bionaire.

Which model should I choose?

This depends on:

  • The size of the room
  • The level of air purification and cleanliness you want
  • Your budget

Other considerations:

  • How much space you have? – Some models can sit on a shelf.
  • How much the unit weighs? – Important if moving it from room to room.
  • Is it the correct size for the room – different size models clean different volumes of air?
  • The amount of times an hour the air is cleaned.
  • Other features you need such as remote control and speed settings.

Generally, the more levels of filtration and features a model has, the higher the price.
Air purifiers featuring HEPA filters are more expensive but are more effective than other filters at removing harmful bacteria and pollen that can affect allergy and asthma suffers.

Air purifiers can be in use continuously or for long periods, so it could pay off to think about their energy efficiency and the amount of noise they’ll make. Ionisers are almost silent. But some air purifiers make a low whirring noise, which you might want to take into account if you’re a light sleeper.

How many are needed for my room/building?

Generally speaking, one large air purifier is usually enough for a medium sized home which is open-planned, but both the size and layout of your property are important factors.

Ideally, in a less open planned building, there should be an air purifier in the bedroom (where most time tends to be spent), and in another room, such as kitchen or living room where most household traffic will be.

Where is the best position to place my air purifier?

Generally it is best to keep an air purifier in the centre of a room for optimum performance. When this isn’t suitable you can also place it in an area which is the source of the irritant, e.g. where your pet might settle, or where someone smokes.

It is best to not place the purifier against a wall, as it may hinder its ability to intake air efficiently.

What Benefits will I get from having an air purifier?

  • Air purifiers create a cleaner environment in your home for you and your family.
  • They remove smoke, dust particles and pollen from your home.
  • Mould spores, per dander and dust mite droppings are captured, and pulled away from the clean air.
  • Airborne particles which trigger asthmatic and allergic reactions are removed with air purifiers.
  • Air quality in the home will be greatly improved, as such activities as, dusting, hovering, cooking, smoking, and having pets can significantly lower the air quality by adding pollutants and allergens.

Should the purifier be switched on continuously?

To be as effective as possible, all air purifiers should be switched on all the time, as air pollution will return when it is switched off.

Anti-Allergy Bedding Buying Guide

Anti-Allergy Bedding Buying Guide

Why do I need Anti-Allergy bedding?

Your bed could be home to over 10 million dust mites; potent triggers of conditions such as asthma, eczema and other respiratory conditions. These unwelcome guests can bring on allergy symptoms making for a very unpleasant, and often disturbed, night’s sleep. Household insecticides have no effect on dust mites, your best course of action is to make your bed inhospitable to them. You can do this by purchasing anti-allergy bedding, or by encasing your existing bedding in specialist anti-allergy encasements. You could also consider purchasing an anti-allergy mattress.

What am I allergic to?

Although we use the term “dust mite allergy”, the mite itself is not what you are allergic to. Instead it is the faeces that the dust mite leaves behind. Their faeces contain proteins which can produce negative reactions in people, including sneezing, coughing, itching, wheezing and streaming eyes. Dust mites do not bite, cannot spread diseases, and do not live on people. They are only harmful to those who develop an allergy to them. Dustmites are microscopic in size so it is easy to assume your bed is mite-free.

What’s the difference between non-allergenic, hypoallergenic and anti-allergy?

  • Non-allergenic means that the item itself shouldn’t cause an allergic reaction, but triggers such as dust mites may still be present.
  • Hypoallergenic means that there is a decreased chance of allergic reaction
  • Anti-allergy means the item is intended to prevent or minimise an allergic reaction.

Do I need new bedding?

To fight dust mites, your best option is to replace your bedding with specialist anti-allergy bedding. Anti-allergy bedding can either contain an active ingredient to denature dust mites, or have a special casing that dust mites cannot penetrate. If your existing bedding isn’t anti-allergy and you’re reluctant to replace it, you can improve its allergy protection by using anti-allergy encasements. These encasements fit over your existing pillow, duvet and mattress and trap allergens inside.

What do I need to make my bed allergy friendly?

It’s important to make your whole bed an allergy friendly haven. This may involve replacing your pillows, duvet, sheets and mattress or purchasing specialist encasements to improve the anti-allergy effectiveness of your existing bedding.

Pillows & Duvets for allergy sufferers

Anti-allergy pillows and duvets can be split into two groups, those that contain an active ingredient to denature dust mites and those made with a casing impenetrable to dust mites. Both options will offer a good level of protection and will stop the growth of dust mites in your pillow and duvet. Furthermore, some pillow and duvet fillings, such as wool and silk, are naturally resistant to dust mites. Alternatively, if you’d prefer to keep your existing pillow and duvet, you can purchase anti-allergy encasements; these will fully encase your pillow and duvet trapping allergens inside.

Bed Linen for allergy sufferers

When purchasing bed sheets it’s best to choose something that offers specialist anti-allergy protection, these sheets will contain an active ingredient to denature dust mites or will be made from something naturally resistant to dust mites such as silk. Alternatively choose sheets that can be washed regularly at 60oC, this is the temperature needed to kill dust mites, or use a laundry additive such as Fabri-Cleanse to remove allergens at lower temperatures.

Mattress Protection for allergy sufferers

You can protect yourself from the allergens in your mattress by using an anti-allergy mattress protector or mattress encasement. An anti-allergy mattress protector will contain an anti-allergy agent to protect you from dust mites in the top layer of your mattress. For better protection an anti-allergy mattress encasement will fully encase your mattress, stopping allergens from exiting or entering any part of your mattress. The majority of mattress encasements are made from a fabric impenetrable to dust mites and other allergens. Anti-Allergy Pillow Protectors and Pillow Encasements are also available.

Mattresses for allergy sufferers

Brands including Sealy and Healthbeds have started to produce hypo-allergenic mattresses. Similarly to anti-allergy bedding, your new mattress will have been treated with an agent to denature dust mites. If you’re considering purchasing a new mattress, choosing an anti-allergy option will stop the growth of dust mites in the first place.

Can Anti-Allergy bedding make my bed more eczema friendly?

When choosing bedding for eczema sufferers, it is very important that it is highly breathable bedding. Bedding that creates a cleaner, drier and smoother environment, will ease irritation on your skin, creating a better night’s sleep. For example our DermaTherapy bedding is made from a tightly woven fabric which creates a smoother layer that will pull less and cause less friction on skin. It is also highly breathable and will draw moisture from the skin.

Pin It on Pinterest