How to Identify and Avoid Winter Allergens

As soon as the weather starts to cool down, and the plants begin to wither and fade, allergy sufferers all over North America breathe a sigh of relief. They no longer have to face the dreaded outdoors and all the microscopic allergens that threaten to clog and tickle their sinuses, water their eyes, and fill their head with what feels like pounds of phlegm. Unfortunately, winters aren’t all that great for allergy sufferers either. Many environmental irritants can cause reactions similar to pollens and moulds. If you’re starting to feel the tell-tale symptoms of allergies, look out for these common winter irritants, courtesy of North Drugstore.

Dry Heat & Dust

While the weather outside is frightful, our furnaces are constantly spewing out heat throughout the house. Unfortunately, heat lowers your home’s humidity levels, which awakens indoor dust mites. Dry heat alone is enough to dry out your skin and eyes, but if you add dust in the mix, you’re looking at itchy eyes, stuffy nose, coughing, and post-nasal drip. To reduce the number of dust mites in the house, add a humidifier (or two) to ensure that your internal humidity constantly hovers around 50%, and take up a strict cleaning regimen.

Wool

For many people, comfy wool sweaters, hats, and mitts are the best part of winter. For others, exposure to wool can cause an instant contact rash. If this sounds familiar, you may be allergic to lanolin, which is a natural wool wax alcohol secreted from sheep skin. If you experience contact rashes from wearing wool, the only thing you can do is to immediately get rid of any clothing that contains lanolin and replace them with alpaca wool or other fibres.

Down

Down pillows, jackets, and duvets reign supreme in the winter. Down is incredibly insulating, which is perfect for those dreadful winter nights. However, down is the ideal host for dust mites and mould. While there is much debate as to whether or not down itself is an allergen, it’s best to be prudent and avoid using down pillows and duvets if you experience allergic reactions.

Animals

If all that dry heat gives you dandruff, then imagine what it’s doing to your pet’s skin. Your pets spend much more time indoors during the winter months, making them possibly the worst allergen in your house. To mitigate your allergic reaction, wash your hands and change out of your clothes after petting your dog, especially before going to bed. Take your dog to the groomer more often to reduce the amount of dander and mould trapped in their thick winter coat.

Christmas Trees

Christmas trees bring a beautiful natural element into an otherwise stark and colourless existence. It’s part of the reason our ancestors brought evergreens inside during the darkest days of the year. But real Christmas trees aren’t for everybody. While it’s not likely that the tree is the cause for your immediate sneezing and itchy throat, it’s likely harbouring pesky mould spores in its branches. If you insist on using a real Christmas tree, keep it outside on your porch or in a garage for a couple of days, then give it a good shake before bringing it inside.

Get Relief from Your Allergies

There’s no guaranteed method of completely removing the allergens from your home. If you take measures to mitigate the dust and mould from the house but your symptoms are still severe, speak to your doctor about prescription allergy medication, such as Flonase, Benadryl, or Astelin.

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