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.

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.

Why Do Indoor Allergies Worsen During Autumn & Winter?

Why Do Indoor Allergies Worsen During Autumn & Winter?

Sufferers of indoor allergies can find that these symptoms often worsen during the Autumn and Winter months. With the change in the weather, if you are allergic to pollen you may experience a relief of your symptoms during this time. However for many people these cold months mean that they find that their indoor allergies get worse as they spend more time indoors, keep their windows closed and stick on the heating which can circulate dust that has gathered over summer. 1

What are common indoor allergies?

Dust mites
These tiny bugs flourish in mattresses and bedding. When their droppings and remains become airborne, they can cause allergy symptoms.

Mould
Thrives in damp, humid areas such as basements and bathrooms. When mould spores get into the air, they can trigger allergy symptoms.

Animals
Most people are not allergic to animal fur, but rather to a protein found in the pet dander, saliva, and urine.

Allergy symptoms caused by dust, pollen, or mould include:

  • Coughing
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Itchy eyes and nose
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes

How can you be sure that you are suffering from an allergy and not from a cold or flu?

A cold usually does not last longer than 10 days, where allergies can linger for weeks or even months. Also colds and flus sometimes have other symptoms such as a fever or aches and pains which often you won’t experience with an allergy. When in doubt consult your doctor who can carry out tests to detect which allergy you may have.

Steps you can take to minimise indoor allergic reactions

Dust mites

  • Wash bedding at 60 degrees once a week to reduce the dust mite load in the bedding.
  • Encase pillows and mattresses in impermeable covers to reduce exposure to dust mites.
  • Avoid down pillows and duvets, which form a nice habitat for dust mites and can be an allergenic.
  • Clean regularly, and use a damp mop for cleaning hardwood floors to avoid stirring up dust.
  • Dehumidifiers can help to reduce dust mite exposure and ease dust mite allergy symptoms. Dust mites thrive in warm humid environments and their populations explode. Ensure you keep your humidity levels to below 50 per cent with a dehumidifier to ensure dust mites do not thrive.

Helpful products that can help with your dust mite allergy:

Beurer LE40 Compact Dehumidifer

61f3MUrtyQL._SL1500_

Bio-Life Home Cleanse

Bio-Life Home Cleanse
Bio-Life Home Cleanse is especially recommended for the bedding of those who suffer from dust mite allergies. It can be used to treat mattresses, sofas and soft furnishings to denature and neutralise dust mite allergens and pet residue.

Mould

  • Immediately wipe down wet surfaces, especially in the bathrooms and kitchen, to keep mould from growing.
  • Good insulation can help cut down on mould by reducing condensation on cold surfaces.
  • Throw out shower curtains, wallpaper, and carpeting that have mould.
  • Wash showers and sinks with a solution containing 5% bleach and a little detergent.
  • To help control mould, use a dehumidifier to keep the humidity in your home below 50%.

An ideal solution in rooms where damp and mould is a problem, or in the winter months when condensation can build up on windows.

Polti Vaporetto Airplus Steam Cleaner PTGB0057

Polti Vaporetto Airplus Steam Cleaner PTGB0057

Clean with the power of steam. Ideal for eliminating bacteria, mould spores, dust mites and allergens.

Animals

If you find that you are allergic to pet dander there are a few steps to prevent an allergic reaction.

  • Minimize contact with pets, and keep them strictly out of the bedrooms to reduce the amount of allergen in the room.
  • 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[2].
  • Wash your hands and face frequently. Keep floors swept, and carpets vacuumed.

Here are some helpful products that can ease your symptoms:

Bio-Life Petal Cleanse Cat Cleanse

Bio-Life Petal Cleanse Cat Cleanse

Petal Cleanse Cat is a surfactant based solution that removes the allergens and dander from the coats of small animals that cause allergic reactions in humans. It has been independently tested in the UK and throughout Europe, and has been found to be safe, effective and easy to use.

Bio-Life Petal Cleanse Dog Cleanse

Bio-Life Petal Cleanse Dog Cleanse

Petal Cleanse Dog is a surfactant based solution that removes the allergens and dander from the coats of small animals that cause allergic reactions in humans. It has been independently tested in the UK and throughout Europe, and has been found to be safe, effective and easy to use.

All Bio-Life products have been awarded Allergy UK’s Allergy Friendly Product Award.

Coping with a Pet Allergy

Coping with a Pet Allergy

Why causes your pet allergy?

Pet allergy is the second largest cause of allergy in the home in the UK.

Pets release proteins from their hair. When this protein is inhaled or comes into contact with skin, those with pet allergies will have a reaction. Most allergic reactions tend to be hereditary. Often younger children who suffer from asthma will be more likely to develop a pet allergy as they get older.

 Symptoms

Pet allergies do not only occur when touching animals as the proteins from pet hair can remain in households from owner to owner.

Symptoms of a pet allergy include:

  • Sneezing and coughing or Asthmatic coughing and congestion.
  • Itching, watering and reddening of eyes.
  • Hay fever like symptoms of sneezing and a runny and/or blocked nose.
  • Itchy nose, roof of mouth or throat.
  • Itchy and red rashes appearing on skin.
  • Facial pressure and pain.
  • Eczema patches.
  • Frequent awakening while sleeping.
  • Swollen, blue-coloured skin under your eyes.

Pet allergies can exacerbate other ailments you have, such as asthma, eczema, hay fever and eye problems.

What could make your pet allergy worse?

  • Other allergens, such as pollen
  • Pollution
  • Chemicals
  • Car fumes
  • Tobacco smoke from cigarettes

Diagnosis

To diagnose a pet allergy, it is recommended to visit your GP.  A pet allergy can mostly be identified by your symptoms, alongside when and where they occurred. It is likely that either a blood sample or a skin test will be taken to confirm a pet allergy.

 What measures can I take to help my pet allergy?

For pet allergies, there are many precautions you can take to make your life easier.

  • Pet dander can cling to upholstered furniture. However products such as Bio-Life Home Cleanse can make upholstered furniture as allergy-friendly as possible.
  • Air purifiers are excellent for removing pet dander and allergens from the air. This is particularly essential with dogs/cats moving about the home releasing hair and dander particles as they go.
  • Wash bedding weekly at a temperature of at least 60°C. We would recommend using the Allergy UK award winning Bio-Life Fabric Cleanse to improve the standard of your wash.
  • Hard floor surfaces are preferable to carpets and rugs. However if floors are carpeted ensure that they are cleaned at least once a week.  Steam cleaners  will ensure a deep and thorough clean.
  • When choosing duvets and pillows, it is best that they can be cleaned. Basic cotton covers are ineffective in preventing allergens from entering the duvet. Mattress, duvet and pillow protectors/encasements should be used.
  • Anti-Allergy mattresses are recommended for keeping all allergens away from you whilst sleeping. It is also recommended to change your bed every 7 years and allergy sufferers should ensure their bed is anti-allergy.
  • When choosing a vacuum, ensure that is has an allergen filter, so you will get the optimum allergy protection clean every time.

Can I still have pets with an allergy?

If you have a pet allergy it’s advised that you should not become a pet owner. But what happens if you didn’t realise you had an allergy?

Here are our tips for keeping a pet if you have an allergy:

  • When deciding to own a pet, ask a friend or family member who has a pet if you can trial being a pet owner. If you have taken on a pet which you are unable to care for because of your allergy contact the RSPCA for advice.
  • Quite often people who are allergic to pets have very little to no reaction to fish or turtles.
  • If fish and turtles aren’t your thing, rabbits and hamsters still produce allergen proteins, but do not shed as much hair. They are often housed outside which makes them a safer choice for allergy sufferers.
  • Dogs and cats should be cleaned at least once a week to lower the allergen levels in your home. Bio-Life do a range of allergy reducing washes that are pet friendly and help keep your allergies at bay.
  • Air purifiers are excellent for removing pet dander and allergens from the air, which is particularly essential with dogs/cats moving about the home releasing hair and dander particles as they go.

 Other complications?

  • Having an allergy to pets makes people more likely to be affected by other illnesses of the airways.
  • Asthma can be worsened by a pet allergy, and result in the asthmatic suffering severe asthma attacks.
  • Pet allergy sufferers are more susceptible to ear infections.
  • The allergens in the air and on surfaces and skin can cause difficulties with sleeping patterns and in worst case scenarios can cause insomnia.

Medications available

If you suffer from a pet allergy it is important to visit your GP; as you can be at risk of developing asthma, or worsening an already existing asthma problem. Whilst medication can improve and control a pet allergy, it cannot cure it.

Immunotherapy – This is an injection or drops given to people with multiple allergies, which works against the allergy for three years.

Eye drops – Used to lessen inflammation in the eyes

Nasal sprays – Used to lessen inflammation of the nasal passage, and reduce symptoms.

Antihistamines – Tablets or medicine which blocks the histamine produced by your body to reduce the allergic reaction.

Find out more about pet allergies and how to cope with the symptoms at Allergy UK

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