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Allergies health centre

10 habits that can trigger allergy symptoms

WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

Allergies are very common. It's estimated a quarter of people in the UK have an allergy. The most common are allergies to pollen, house dust mites, mould, and pet dander.

When you come into contact with your trigger it can lead to sneezing, a runny nose, itchy eyes, wheezing and coughing, and skin rashes.
If you've got allergies you probably keep an eye on the pollen count and know, or have an idea, about your triggers. But you could have habits that you don't realise may be setting off your allergy symptoms.

1. Hot and humid showers

If you turn up the heat in the shower too often making the place all steamy and humid, it can encourage mould. Those tell tale lines of black around the grouting mean mould has taken hold, as it loves warm and moist places.

Use an extractor fan in your bathroom or shower room every time you have a shower, or open the window to get some ventilation. If there's no window, keep the bathroom door open to allow the steam out.

Use mould-removing cleaning products, but wear a mask and gloves while you scrub it off, as the strong cleaning products themselves could also affect your allergies. Even better, get someone else to do it for you.

2. Following home fashion

Velvet curtains, fleecy throws and furry rugs, may make your home look like something out of an interiors magazine, but your luxurious surroundings may be bad for your allergies.

Too much fabric in curtains, cushions and upholstery, can encourage dust and house dust mites. Wooden floors are better than carpeting if your allergies are triggered by dust. Machine washable rugs may be your best option.

3. Cleaning blunders

If your allergy is to house dust mites, never sweep the floor with a broom - use a damp mop and vacuum regularly with a machine that has a HEPA filter that sucks up smaller particles out of the air. Make sure you vacuum curtains, sofas, mattresses, and other upholstered furniture too.

Cleaning is an important way to eliminate potential allergens from your home, but when you dust always use a damp cloth or steam cleaner otherwise you'll just be spreading the dust into the air and causing yourself more problems. Maureen Jenkins, clinical director of Allergy UK, says: "Use microfibre cloths instead of old-fashioned dusters, which merely redistribute dust."

It may be worth wearing a face-mask and gloves when you clean to protect yourself from potential allergens and also from the effect of certain cleaning products. The chemicals in some of them can exacerbate symptoms.

4. The wrong type of contact lenses

If you wear contact lenses you may trap allergens like dust or pollen behind them. A 2015 study published in Advances in Dermatology and Allergology concluded that the best option if you are allergic is to use daily disposables, reduce wear time, use anti-allergic eye drops twice a day, and regularly consult an ophthalmologist. If you experience a severe allergic reaction, try taking a break from wearing your contacts for a while.

You can still use anti-allergy eye drops with contact lenses but soft contact lens wearers should wait at least 10 minutes after using the eye drops before inserting their contacts.

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