Four Common Indoor Allergens

Allergens found indoors can trigger a lot of allergies. Read on to know more about some common indoor allergens.

By Arun Sharma

Four Common Indoor Allergens

Parents of most children with allergies think that they can prevent allergic attacks in their children by keeping them indoors. But our houses are not free of allergens. There are quite a few in every nook and corner. When those allergens attack children, they can affect the eyes, nose, throat, airways and skin. Here’s a list of some common household allergens that can trigger allergic attacks in children.

1. Dust mites

The house dust mite is a microscopic relative of the arachnid family (spiders, scorpions, etc.) and live on mattresses, bedding, carpets and curtains. They feed on flakes of skin shed by humans and pets and thrive in warm and humid environments. No amount of cleaning the house can make it entirely free of dust mites. To ward off dust mites, allergists recommend allergen proof covers for mattresses and pillows. Washing all the blankets and bedding in hot water at least once a week and maintaining a humidity level below 50% also helps. If your child has stuffed toys, put them in a freezer bag and freeze them for at least 3–5 hours per week or replace them with washable ones. Always use a damp mop to remove dust, as using a dry cloth can stir up mite allergens.

2. Pets

It is usually thought that the fur or feathers of pets cause allergies. But allergies are aggravated by:

  • proteins secreted by oil glands and shed as dander
  • proteins in the saliva that stick to the fur when pets lick themselves
  • aerosolised urine from rodents and guinea pigs

Pet allergens are very small particles. So, even when an animal is out of sight, their allergens can remain in the air, carpets and furniture for a long time. To prevent allergies from pets, remove pets from your home, if possible. If not, keep them away from bedrooms, carpeted areas and upholstered furniture. Bathe your pet at least once a week to reduce the number of allergens.

3. Moulds

Mould allergy can be tough to evade, as they can grow in a lot of places like bathroom, under the sink, basement or uncut grass. To guard against mould allergies, use dehumidifiers or exhaust fans, repair any leaks or spills, and ensure that drainage flows away from your home’s foundation.

4. Cockroaches

These pests are common in houses. There is a strong association between cockroaches and an increase in the severity of asthma. The proteins found in cockroach saliva, and on their body and droppings are allergenic. To prevent infestation of cockroaches, use baits and environmentally safe pesticides, and repair leaky faucets and drains. Also, don’t leave food open in the kitchen and regularly clean under the stoves, toasters and refrigerators.

Symptoms of allergy in children come to notice only after they have been suffering from it for some time. It is important to remember that if a child develops an allergy, early diagnosis and treatment can make it easier to manage the symptoms and minimise their effects.