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When Your Child Has Indoor Allergies

Kids spend most of their time indoors. If your child has allergies to things like pet dander, dust mites, or mold, there's lots of stuff floating in the air that can trigger symptoms like: 

  • Runny nose
  • Congestion
  • Watery, itchy eyes
  • Sneezing

If those look like the same symptoms you'd have from a pollen allergy, they are. Indoor allergy triggers can lead to the same symptoms as outdoor triggers (like grass, tree, or weed pollen).

Indoor triggers tend to cause symptoms all year long. Outdoor triggers tend to cause problems during the warm months at about the same time each year.

Causes of Indoor Allergies

Children with allergies or asthma can have flare-ups from even very small amounts of:

  • Dust mites and their droppings
  • Dander or saliva from dogs and cats
  • Urine in the bedding of mice, guinea pigs, rabbits, and hamsters
  • Cockroach droppings
  • Indoor mold

What You Can Do

  • Seal pillows, mattresses, and box springs in allergen-proof covers to keep dust mites in bedding away from your kids. Read labels carefully to make sure they protect against dust mites.
  • Vacuum regularly to suck up indoor allergens. Make sure you have a vacuum with a HEPA filter.
  • Wash sheets and blankets every week or two in hot water, and put them in the dryer on a high setting, to kill and clear away dust mites.
  • If your child is allergic to dogs or cats, keeping the pet out of the bedroom may reduce symptoms. Bathing the pet weekly can also help with allergy-triggering dander. 
  • If you have mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, or rabbits, have someone else in the family -- and not the allergic child -- regularly clean the pet’s cage.
  • Consider replacing carpet with hardwood, linoleum, or tile.
  • To prevent cockroach invasions, seal cracks and openings in your home. 
    • Clean the kitchen regularly.
    • Keep your home free of leaks and puddles of water.
    • Store food in sealed containers.
    • Use a garbage can with a lid.
    • Put away pet-food dishes when they’re not being used.
  • Use dehumidifiers in damp areas to reduce mold. Be sure kitchens, bathrooms, and basements have good ventilation. Use exhaust fans in the kitchen and in the bathroom.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Luqman Seidu, MD on October 29, 2012

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