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Keep Winter Sniffles at Bay

If you were hoping your allergy symptoms would go into hibernation once Old Man Winter blew in, you might be out of luck. If you suffer from perennial allergic rhinitis—or year-round allergies—here’s your winter allergy action plan.

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Simple Tips for Winter Allergy Relief

There are over 200 different allergens out there.Some allergens may stick around long after cold weather strikes.

The big winter allergy culprits are dust mites, pet dander and mold. But if you live in a warmer climate or travel to one, pollen allergies can also act up. To make matters worse, spending more time indoors with the windows shut can increase your exposure to these allergens. We’re here to help with simple tips for giving winter allergy triggers the boot.

Dust Mite Allergies

Dust mites are microscopic bugs that live off of dead human skin and pet dander and are found anywhere dust particles collect. Even if you’re a neat freak, it’s impossible to rid your home entirely of this common indoor allergen, but you can find a few quick tips to help reduce your exposure below.

Ditch The Dust

Put allergen barrier covers on your mattresses, box springs and pillows. When traveling, pack a couple covers for the pillows at your destination.

Wash all bedding and blankets once a week in hot water (at least 130°F). Be sure to check the washing instructions first.

Diminish moisture-loving dust mites by using a dehumidifier to keep the humidity in your home below 50%.

For more dust allergy tips, read The Dirt on Dust Mites.

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The average home may collect an estimated 40 pounds of dust each year.1 And there may be hundreds of microscopic dust mites lurking in just one gram of dust.

Pet Dander Allergies

It’s not the pet’s fur that causes your allergic reaction. It’s the proteins found in the animal’s dander (dead skin cells), saliva or urine. These particles are so light that they can stick to your shoes, clothes and hair2. Which means they can get inside your home—even if you’re not among the 68% of U.S. households that has a pet. 3

Tame Pet Allergies

Remove shoes at the door, toss clothes in the laundry and shower upon returning home. No time for a shower? At least wash your hands and face.

Sweep floors and vacuum carpets weekly with either a double-layered micro filter bag or a HEPA filter to trap pet allergens.

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Most people think of dogs and cats when it comes to pet allergies. But the allergy-causing proteins in pet dander can also be found in hamsters, rabbits, gerbils, guinea pigs and more.2

Mold Allergies

Indoor mold sheds spores all year and is found lurking in damp spots, such as basements, bathrooms, laundry rooms, attics, refrigerators and windowsills. Since mold thrives in damp spaces, mold allergy symptoms may be more common during the summer months when it’s hot and humid. But they can be prevalent year-round in warm climates and wherever moisture builds up in your home.4

Control Moisture-loving Mold

Dry areas that get wet frequently, such as countertops and front-loading washing machines. And be sure to fix leaks quickly.5

Open a window or use an exhaust fan over the stove when cooking and in the bathroom when showering to remove extra humidity.5

Get an inexpensive hygrometer (humidity monitor) at the hardware store to measure your home’s moisture levels.6 When humidity levels rise above 50%, use a dehumidifier.

Pollen Allergies

If you live in a warmer climate or are traveling to one, milder temperatures may mean pollen allergies stick around for the winter.

Put Pollen In Its Place

Keep an eye on pollen levels in your area, so you know what to expect.

On days when the pollen count is especially high, avoid outdoor activities if possible.

Remove your shoes, shower and change your clothes after coming inside so you don’t track pollen in. At the very least, wash your hands and face.7

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Pet dander, pollen and mold spores are so light they can stick to your clothes, shoes and hair. To help keep these allergy triggers from getting tracked inside, remove your shoes at the door, take a quick shower and change your clothes after coming home. Don’t have time for a shower? Try to at least wash your face and hands.

Could it Be a Cold?

Wondering if your seasonal sniffles are allergies or a cold? Find out five ways to learn the difference.

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  1. Allergy Dust Mites. ENT and Allergy Center of Missouri. University Physicians. University of Missouri Health Center.

  2. Pet Allergy. Mayo Clinic. Accessed September 10, 2017.

  3. APPA National Pet Owners Survey 2017-2018. American Pet Products Association. p. 9.Accessed November 14, 2017.

  4. Mold Allergies. Pet Allergy. Mayo Clinic. Accessed November 14, 2017.

  5. Watch Out for Summer Mold. Claritin Blue Sky Living. Accessed September 10, 2017.

  6. Your Home Can Be Your Castle—Despite Pesky Dust Allergens! Claritin Blue Sky Living®. Accessed November 14, 2017.

  7. Pollen Allergies. November 14, 2017.

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