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

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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.

Treating eczema (including tips for self-care)

Treating eczema (including tips for self-care)

There are many ways to treat eczema.

Emollients

Emollients are non-cosmetic moisturisers that keep the skin moist and flexible to prevent cracking. They come in the form of creams, lotions, gels and ointments.The are the most effective way to manage all types of eczema, as they keep the skin soft and supple.

Topical corticosteroids

Topical corticosteroids, or topical steroids for short, are creams, ointments and lotions which reduce the inflammation of the skin. Apply them once or twice a day. It is important to use the right amount of steroid creams as directed by your GP, as opposed to emollients – which can be applied liberally.

Self-care tips

  • Keep fingernails cut short and consider light gloves if scratching is a problem during the night.
  • Moisturisers and emollients are most effective when they are applied to skin that is wet or damp. After bathing, lightly pat the skin dry and then apply the moisturiser right away to seal in the moisture.
  • Use gentle skin care cleansers rather than traditional soaps, and limit use to only on your underarms, genital areas, hands, feet and face.
  • Keep your home cool, especially the bedroom, as a hot environment causes itching.
  • Use your emollient even when you are not experiencing symptoms.
  • Ask your GP about special medicated bandages, clothing or wet wraps. These are used over emollients or with topical steroids to prevent scratching, promote healing, and stop the skin from drying out.
  • Reduce stress by listening to guided relaxation, trying out meditation or practising mindfulness.
  • Invest in specialist clothing and bedding available for eczema sufferers. Cool cotton or silk fibre clothes and bedding are ideal for eczema sufferers, as these allow the skin to remain cool and less irritated.
  • Avoid sweating by not over-dressing during warmer weather and using suitable bedding for the climate.1

Avoiding triggers

  • Steer clear of chemicals such as washing detergents, perfume, soap and air freshener.
  • Avoid hot baths and showers, instead keep water lukewarm and gently pat dry before applying emollient.
  • Dust and vacuum regularly and try to keep allergens such as dust, pet dander, mould and pollen to a minimum.
  • Avoid any foods that may be triggers – peanuts, milk, soy, wheat, fish, and eggs are common.

Dietary Changes

There is no solid evidence that certain foods cause eczema or trigger a flare-up; however, some people notice symptoms do develop after they eat a specific food.

Elimination diets may help you work out if a specific food is contributing to your condition. This involves cutting out a certain food, such as eggs or cow’s milk, to check if there is any improvement in your skin.

Unless you have been tested and confirmed to have a particular food allergy, be sure to discuss your diet with your doctor before cutting out a whole food group.

Despite the uncertain links between eczema and food, a well-balanced diet including lots of fruits, vegetables, grains and low fat dairy products is the best diet for overall good health.

Products that can help:

Bamboo and silk bed linen has features and benefits for eczema sufferers. Not only does bamboo reduce irritation during the night, but it also wicks away excess moisture naturally and helps regulate body temperature. Silk and bamboo are great choices as they are naturally resistant to dust mites, fungi and mould, therefore ideal for those whose conditions are triggered by these allergens.

For those eczema sufferers who also have a dust mite allergy, Anti-Allergy bedding is ideal.

Allersafe anti-allergy bedding dramatically reduces the growth of dust mite allergens. Providing a healthier sleeping environment for those already sensitised to household dust mite allergens and preventing the sensitisation that leads to asthma, sinusitis and allergic rhinitis. Allersafe bedding is blended with Amicor Pure fibre, an intelligent fibre with anti-bacterial and anti-fungal additives inside. It creates an environment that is not suitable for dust mites to survive. Its effects last for at least 200 washes.

Causes and signs of Eczema

Causes and signs of Eczema

The causes of eczema include a combination of factors.

Eczema is known to run in families and often develops alongside other conditions, such as asthma, dust mite allergy and hay fever. It is unknown how it is passed between generations, but if one parent has asthma or hay fever, there’s about a 50% chance that their child will have at least one of these diseases. 1

Signs and symptoms

Some common symptoms include;

  • Very itchy, dry, swollen or sore patches of skin.
  • The rash tends to come and go and at times can be crusty and scaly.
  • Eczema can appear anywhere on the body, but the most common areas are inside the elbows, backs of the knees, face, behind the ears, buttocks and on the hands and feet.
  • Sometimes there may be other changes in the skin, such as raised bumps, hives or an extra fold of skin under your eyes.
  • Scratching can break the skin, allowing bacteria or viruses to enter and cause an infection.

Eczema affects everyone differently. It can be difficult to know if your skin is just excessively dry or you are suffering eczema.

The difference is dry skin is generally a temporary problem, and isn’t usually very itchy or inflamed. If you are suffering an itchy rash frequently, it is likely to be eczema. Visit your GP for proper diagnosis and advice. 2

Common causes of eczema

  • Certain foods can be triggers for eczema.
  • Allowing the skin to become too dry – as when it is rough or tight, this can cause an eczema flare up.
  • Emotional stress is thought to be linked to worsening of eczema symptoms.
  • Excessive heat can also aggravate the symptoms of eczema. This can happen during exercise or when bedding or nightwear is too heavy for the climate.
  • Everyday environmental materials such as pollen, dust mites, pet dander, mould and dandruff can also trigger eczema, and women are especially prone to experiencing flare ups caused by fluctuating hormone levels in the body.

So, there really there are no single causes of eczema.

Have eczema? Could you also have allergies?

If you suffer from eczema, you may also have allergies. Doctors refer to eczema, allergies, and asthma as the ‘atopic triad’ because they often occur together.

In the past, scientists thought eczema was caused by allergies, but we now know it is not this simple. Research shows that some people with the condition have a gene flaw that causes a lack of a specific protein (filaggrin) in their skin. This protein’s role is in protecting the outer layer of our skin which is a barrier to bacteria and foreign bodies.

Without filaggrin the skin dries out and the barrier breaks down making the skin vulnerable to substances it is exposed to, such as soaps and detergents. It is also easier for allergens to enter the body, which makes people more sensitive to particular allergens, even food.

Research also highlights an issue with a type of white blood cell that helps control allergic reactions in the body. This could explain why people with eczema suffer flare ups when they are exposed to allergens. It has also been proven that eczema sufferers have higher than normal levels of antibodies. Researchers have yet to work out why eczema sufferers have this higher level and its role in this skin disease. 3

Allergies during exam season

Allergies during exam season

Research suggests that students who have allergies or hay fever on exam day are 40% more likely to drop a grade. However this percentage is increased to 70% if they take antihistamine treatments which can cause drowsiness.

Hay fever is caused by pollen from trees, grass and weeds. For most, hay fever is harmless but for some it can cause an allergic reaction which includes sneezing, itchy eyes and headaches.

To deal with the problem students have traditionally had a choice of taking medication and risking the drowsy effects that can follow or feel the full on force of hay fever symptoms.

However there are a number of precautions that can be taken in the run up to and throughout exam period, many of which are natural, without negative side effects which can tip the scales in students favour.

Protection

It’s important to protect the rooms where studying and sitting exams are taking place. Creating a good environment for study ensures students have the best chance when it comes to putting pen to paper. Air purifiers to rid rooms of pollen and other allergens, and steam cleaners also are good for providing a deeper level of cleaning. Both will make a huge impact on the amount of pollen present in your home. Don’t forget to protect your clothes too. Our Bio-Life Fabric Cleanse denatures 90% of pollen found on your clothes.

In the lead up to exam day

Try out products that can help before exam time so that way you know if they are suited to you.

On the Big Exam Day

If possible ensure any medication taken is non-drowsy. Remember to bring water and tissues into the exam room with you; keeping hydrated helps reduce side effects. Before the exam try and reduce the amount of time you spend outdoors and while indoors keep windows closed to reduce pollen intake. If you wear them don’t forget your glasses they offer an extra shield from pollen.

Hay fever? What hay fever? Good luck everyone!

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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