Expert advice on creating an allergy friendly home this Allergy Awareness Week (26th-30th April 2021).
Our homes are our sanctuaries, but for the millions of skin allergy sufferers in the UK, they are also harbouring invisible allergens and irritants which are making skin conditions worse.
This Allergy Awareness Week (26th-30th April 2021), homecare brand Surcare, which specialises in allergy-friendly washing products, is putting our homes under the microscope with advice on how to banish hidden allergens that might be playing havoc with our skin.
Claire Lancaster, from Surcare’s product development team, explains: “We think of our homes as our safe place – somewhere to escape to and unwind after a busy day but unfortunately if you are prone to dry, itchy skin or suffer from a skin condition such as eczema or dermatitis, the very place we come for sanctuary could in fact be making symptoms worse.
“Not only do we spend a lot of time at home, but our houses create the perfect conditions for allergens to thrive – a warm environment with lots of soft furnishings or fabric to breed in.
“Here we share our advice on how to reclaim your home and keep hidden allergens at bay.”
Allergy Friendly Home – Exterminate dust mites
House dust mites are tiny creatures, just a quarter of a millimetre long, and like it or not there are millions of them living in your home. They are found in carpets, sofas, rugs, curtains, cushions, beds and duvets and feed on the dead skin that we shed. Unfortunately for allergy sufferers, dust mites (and more specifically their faeces) are linked to a number of allergies including asthma, eczema and perennial allergic rhinitis. If left to get out of control then dust mites can make these allergies worse. The best way to keep house dust mites at bay is by keeping your house clean – vacuuming carpets, rugs and sofas; washing soft furnishings such as cushion covers and curtains; changing your bed every 1-2 weeks and washing pillows and duvets every six months. Soft toys can also be attractive to dust mites so keep them out of your children’s beds if they have any allergies and wash them at a high temperature every six months. You could also put them in a freezer overnight to kill any mites.
Allergy Friendly Home – Open your windows
Common allergens in the home thrive in warm, damp conditions so make sure that your give your house a chance to breath by opening your windows to let fresh air circulate. Overheating at night can also aggravate dry, irritated skin making it itchy. Eczema sufferers know all too well the damage that they can do at night by scratching in their sleep, so try to avoid over heating by sleeping with the window open slightly. You could also consider investing in an air purifier which will remove pollutants and allergens from the air indoors.
Allergy Friendly Home – Look at the labels
There are a wide range of products that we use every day in our homes that our skin comes into contact with, that could unknowingly be making skin problems worse. Anything from washing detergent to shampoo, deodorant, make up and moisturisers could cause flare ups and exacerbate problem skin. Deciphering product labels can be a minefield – so look for products which have been endorsed by organisations such as Allergy UK. This signifies that the product and its ingredients have been scientifically tested with leading allergy specialists. You should also look for household products which are specifically designed for sensitive skin. For example, Surcare’s range of laundry products have been dermatologically tested, carry the Allergy UK seal of approval and have been created for people with sensitive skin. They contain no fragrances, enzymes, acids and dyes – all things which could irritate skin and found in many common washing brands.
Allergy Friendly Home – Manage mould
You may not realise it but exposure to mould could aggravate a skin condition, causing an eczema flare up. Mould particles can be found throughout your home and they release microscopic spores in their thousands into the air around them which can trigger a reaction when they come into contact with skin. Mould loves damp conditions and there are lots of places around the home that it will likely be lurking – in the seals of your fridge and freezer, around the washing machine seal, around window frames, on your shower curtain, in houseplant soil, on wallpaper – the list goes on. You should keep on top of mould by cleaning hotspots regularly with bleach. Don’t forget to vacuum as soon as you have wiped down any areas to capture invisible spores too. Ventilation is also crucial to keeping mould at bay – cooking with an extractor fan on, not drying your clothes indoors, opening windows and making sure that your bathroom is properly ventilated will help to avoid build ups.
Claire continued: “The UK has some of the highest prevalence rates of allergic conditions in the world – with numbers growing five per cent every year. Unfortunately for many it is a case of living with the condition day by day, meaning that it is crucial that we get on top of allergens in our homes in order to live a healthy and happy life.”