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All About Allergies (part 2): Indoor and Outdoor Allergens

This is part 2 of a 3-part series of blogs on allergies. Read the first blog here: http://parentedge.in/all-about-allergies-part-1/.

Source: Google Images

Source: Google Images

In this blog, I wish to share some information on how we can combat common allergy triggers in our day-to-day lives.

Everything that makes one sneeze or itch is not be an allergen. Cigarette smoke, automobile exhausts, perfumes and chemicals in household products (bleaches to mosquito coils) are actually irritants. These are substances which, while not corrosive, cause a temporary or reversible inflammation of living tissue (such as eyes, skin, or respiratory organs) by a chemical action at the point of contact. Allergens, on the other hand, act on one’s immune system with the power to produce persistent, prolonged and progressive damage to the body.

The most common indoor immune triggers are house dust mites (yes, there is a tiny living creature involved!), cockroaches, moulds and animal proteins from pets.

Dust mites, though a close relatives of ticks and spiders, are too small to be seen without a microscope. Dust contains the faeces and decaying bodies of these mites, and it’s the proteins present in this dust mite “debris” that are the culprits in dust mite allergy. They eat skin cells shed by people, and thrive in warm, humid environments. In most homes, bedding, upholstered furniture and carpeting provide an ideal environment for dust mites. House dust is easily trapped in these, which hold moisture well.


  1. Wash all sheets, blankets, pillowcases and bedcovers in hot water – at least 50 C – to kill dust mites and remove allergens. If bedding can’t be washed hot, expose them to sunlight on a clean dry surface.
  2. Maintain a relative humidity below 50 percent.
  3. Use a damp or oiled mop or rag rather than a dry one to clean up dust. This prevents dust from becoming airborne and resettling.
  4. Use a vacuum cleaner with a double-layered micro filter bag or a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter to help decrease house-dust emissions from the cleaner. Stay out of the vacuumed room for about two hours after vacuuming.
  5. Buy washable stuffed toys. Wash them often in hot water and dry thoroughly. Also, keep stuffed toys off beds.
  6. Remove knickknacks, table top ornaments, books, magazines and newspapers from your bedroom so that dust does not collect on them.
  7. If possible replace carpeting with tile, wood, linoleum or vinyl flooring.

Cockroaches will always be formidable enemies and I don’t think we can totally get rid of them because evidence suggests that the species existed even before we did! If you see one cockroach in your home, there are probably at least 800 hiding nearby. They thrive on food, paints, wallpaper pastes, newspapers, and book binding material. To keep them at bay these are few things you can do:

  1. Spray the repellent (experts say that poison baits and boric acid are better than the sprays) under the sink and in wall and floor cracks. Open windows and doors to get fresh air during and after spraying.
  2. Do not stack newspapers or books and bags for too long.
  3. Keep food and garbage in containers with tight lids. Never leave food out in the kitchen or anywhere else. Clean up all food crumbs and spilled drinks right away.
  4. Fix leaky faucets and drain pipes.

Moulds (these are a group of fungi that produce spores) live everywhere—on logs and on fallen leaves, and in moist places like bathrooms and kitchens. For those with allergies its best to avoid contact (stay away from locked up rooms) and keep the house dry:

  1. Use an exhaust fan or open a window in the bathroom to get rid of the moisture.
  2. Scrub solid items such as floors, cabinets and furniture with a cleaning detergent mixed in hot water, or with a commercially available diluted bleach solution. Rinse and dry items completely.

Although our pets bring us so much comfort their dander (skin flakes), as well as their saliva and urine, can cause an allergic reaction. There is no allergy risk-free pet (even aquariums can grow moulds) so it is better to limit contact whenever possible if one is diagnosed as allergic.


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Dr. Krishna Mahathi holds diplomas in Pediatrics and in the management of allergies and asthma. Years of working and interacting with children and parents have given her insight into developmental disabilities. She wishes that there was more awareness and acceptance of the issues that differently-abled children face and hopes that through this blog, she can enable thse children and their families to make sensible and informed choices.

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