An allergen is something in your environment that can cause allergy symptoms of
sneezing, itchy watery red eyes, runny nose, and stuffy nose. If you have asthma, being
around things you are allergic to can cause you to cough and wheeze. The indoor
allergens that can cause these symptoms are dust mites, animal dander, cockroaches, and
certain molds. Indoor allergens are present all year.
Steps to Limit Exposure to Indoor Allergens:
ξ Dust mites like warmth and humidity. They feed on shedded skin and are found
most where people spend a lot of time. They are found in large numbers in bedding,
fabric covered furniture, and carpeting.
ξ Pet allergens are in animal dander and saliva. Rodents such as hamsters, mice,
rabbits, and guinea pigs have allergens in their urine. All warm blooded animals,
including farm animals, can be allergens. There is no such thing as a non-allergic
dog or cat. For people who have pet allergy, it is best to remove the animal from
the home. If this is not possible, the pet should be kept out of the bedroom of the
allergic person and handled very little. An allergic person should not clean out a
ξ Cockroach allergy is especially a problem in crowded, urban areas. Cockroach
allergen is in the droppings, saliva and body parts. To control cockroaches, seal
off areas where they enter the home. Also, keep food in covered containers and
counter tops clean. Indoor garbage cans should be kept covered. Repair any
leaking pipes or faucets. Professional pest control may be needed to get rid of
cockroaches. If you are renting and have cockroaches, contact your landlord for
ξ Indoor molds and mildew occur where it is damp. Mold and mildew are usually
found in basements or bathrooms or where there is a water leak. Visible mold on
hard surfaces usually can be cleaned with water and soap. Sometimes vinegar is
needed. When using vinegar, it can be applied either with a cloth or spray bottle.
Let it sit for 30 minutes – then scrub to remove the mold residue. Vinegar is an
organic solution – and will not be harmful to your health. The vinegar smell will
go away within an hour. Bleach is not recommended since it can be irritating to
family members with asthma.
ξ To prevent mold:
o Water leaks must be fixed.
o Mold or moldy items should be removed.
o Humidity should be controlled. Dehumidifiers and air conditioning can
help to lower dampness.
o Good air flow is important in bathrooms and kitchens. The fan in the
bathroom should be run after taking a bath or shower.
o Avoid carpeting in basement.
o Avoid storing items in damp areas.
Treating Indoor Allergy Symptoms:
Medicines can help allergy symptoms. These medicines can include:
ξ an antihistamine (helps runny/itchy nose/eyes, sneezing)),
ξ a nose spray (helps nasal stuffiness)
ξ an eye drop (helps itchy eyes).
It is important to take the allergy medications as prescribed by your health care provider.
Immunotherapy or allergy “shots” may be used for children and adults who continue to
have allergy symptoms even while taking allergy medicines.
For more information about indoor allergens:
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call
if you have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with
your doctor. This is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical
condition. Because each person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on
your health care team when using this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911.
Copyright ©1/2015. University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced
by the Department of Nursing. HF#7384.