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.

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.

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.

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.

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