The best way to manage your child’s allergy symptoms is to avoid the specific substances (called allergens) that cause your child’s symptoms. The best way to avoid allergens is through environmental control. Environmental control means taking action to eliminate the allergens or placing barriers between the source of the allergen and your child. These need to be done at the home and, if possible, in your child’s school. This will help to control your child's allergy symptoms.
Unfortunately, it is very hard for children with allergies to avoid pollens completely. Pollens come from trees, grass and weeds. In Indiana, the outdoor allergy season begins in early March and ends after two killing frosts in the late fall. If your child is allergic to pollen, there are allergy treatments that can help.
Outdoor mold spores are just as difficult to avoid. They tend to be more common in August and are gone after two killing frosts.
Other environmental allergens are easier to control because they are present year-round and are usually in the home. These allergens are called perennial allergens. Perennial (indoor) allergens include:
- House dust mites
- Mold spores
- Skin flakes or dander from animals
The level of environmental control needed to relieve your child’s symptoms will depend on his or her specific allergies. Children with pollen allergies need other approaches to treatment because pollen is almost impossible to avoid unless your child does not go outside. Talk to your child’s doctor about these other options.
What to Expect
What to Expect
Environmental control involves reducing, removing or establishing barriers against allergens. Below is how you can control allergens like house dust mites, cockroaches, mold and animal dander:
- House dust mites. House dust mites are microscopic insects that thrive on mold and human skin (which we naturally shed throughout the day). The fecal pellet of the house dust mite contains the allergen. House dust mites thrive in fiber-filled items such as:
- Stuffed animals
- Box springs
- Cockroaches. Cockroaches can be a major allergen in certain environments. This includes dead cockroaches or dust from an earlier cockroach problem. Severe asthma has been linked to cockroach allergy. Cleaning and prevention can help control this allergen. Remove any food or water that may attract cockroaches, and seal any cracks in your doors, windows or floors. You may want to call a professional insect exterminator if you believe you have a cockroach problem.
- Mold. Mold can come into your home from the outside world. If you can see mold growing in your home, this is a problem that needs to be addressed. If mold is a concern, the health department and private companies can check your home for mold. You can control mold spores in your home by ventilating bathrooms, basements and other dark, damp corners. Use air conditioning when possible because it removes moisture from the air, but remember to change the filter once a month. Try not to have wallpaper and carpet in bathrooms, as mold can grow underneath these things.
- Animals and animal dander. Animal allergies can be challenging. If your child is allergic to the family pet, bathe the pet regularly to remove dander and pollens or other allergens that may collect in the animal’s fur. Keep the door to your child’s room closed, and do not allow the pet in this area of the house. Dust and vacuum your home often to help remove dander from carpets and upholstered surfaces. If your child has a cat allergy, vacuuming can stir up dander, leaving it airborne for hours before it settles. This can make your child’s cat allergy worse. Air filters and purifiers may help remove pet dander from the air. In cases of severe animal allergy, you may want to talk with your child’s doctor regarding whether you should find a new home for your pet.
Environmental control can lead to making home repairs and improvements, such as getting rid of carpets or wallpaper. The changes needed to control environmental allergens will be based on your child’s specific reactivity as determined by allergy testing. In some cases, only minor changes may be needed.
Key Points to Remember
Key Points to Remember
- The best way to manage your child’s allergy symptoms is to avoid the specific substances (called allergens) that cause your child’s symptoms.
- Environmental control means taking action to eliminate the allergens or placing barriers between the source of the allergen and your child.
- Dust mites, cockroaches, mold spores and animal dander are common indoor allergens that can be controlled and avoided.
- The level of environmental control needed to relieve your child’s symptoms will depend on his or her specific allergies.
- Children with pollen allergies need other approaches to treatment because pollen is almost impossible to avoid unless your child does not go outside. Talk to your child’s doctor about these other options.
In addition to our primary hospital location at the Academic Health Center in Indianapolis, IN, we have convenient locations to better serve our communities throughout the state.
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