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Is My Home Causing My Allergies?

All answers were contributed by Helena Hor, Watsons Pharmacist.


1. What are the common allergens at home? And in which places? E.g. allergens in the bedroom vs kitchen or toilet

Source of allergen Allergen Commonly found in
Animal (cats, dogs) Proteins from dander (skin shedding) & saliva Fabric items around the home (dander clings easily)
Insect (dust mites, cockroaches) Proteins in insects’ droppings, saliva and body parts Dust mites: Fabric items in bedroom and living room (high humidity & human dander as food source provide perfect environment for dust mites to flourish) Eg: mattresses, pillows, blankets, beddings, curtain, carpets, upholstered furniture, stuffed animals
Cockroaches: Kitchen (food and water supplies are abundant)
Molds Spores shed from mold** Sinks, bathtubs, wall in bathroom and indoor plants (high humidity)

**Spores from outdoors may also enter the house through opened windows and doors.



Interior Designer: ARCHéType Pte Ltd


2. What are some medications that can help manage these symptoms? (either OTC or pharmacy)

The most effective way to control allergy symptoms is to avoid identified allergens. However, the medications below may be used in managing allergic rhinitis (AR) symptoms if avoidance is not possible or incomplete:

Non-drowsy Antihistamines
They are effective in relieving symptoms such as sneezing, runny and itchy nose that occur occasionally or briefly. These can be obtained either over the counter or through the pharmacist.

Some antihistamines are combined with a decongestant such as pseudoephedrine, which alleviates blocked nose. These should be used short-term to manage allergic rhinitis. These can be obtained through the pharmacist.

Steroid nasal sprays
They are most effective in reducing AR symptoms. They work best if used every day and the maximum effectiveness is usually attained after 2 weeks. These are available through the pharmacist.

Decongestant nasal sprays
These are useful in alleviating blocked nose. Their use should not exceed 3 to 5 days continuously due to the possible worsening of symptoms once medication is stopped. They are available over the counter.

Eye drops
Antihistamine eye drops provide quick relief of itchy and watery eyes.

Some antihistamine eye drops are combined with a decongestant, which help to reduce eye redness. These preparations should be used for up to 5 days only to prevent any worsening of symptoms once usage is stopped. These can be obtained either over the counter or through the pharmacist.


3. What are some simple home remedies that can help to manage these symptoms?

Rinsing your nasal passages with saline water (salt water) will not only alleviate symptoms such as stuffy nose, but helps to clear any possible allergens in the nasal cavity as well. Irrigation devices may be bought at the pharmacy. Irrigation devices should be cleaned as directed and replaced regularly to prevent any contamination.


4. Are there any lifestyle tips to prevent these allergies from being trigger?

  1. Air humidifier
    – This is not recommended as it may increase dust mites and mold by making the environment more conducive for them to thrive in. Indoor humidity should ideally be kept between 30-50%.
  2. Air filter with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter
    – These only remove allergens that are floating in the air. They are less effective in removing dust mites, as dust mites are relatively heavier and doesn’t remain airborne as compared to animal dander.
    – HEPA filter should be regularly changed as per manufacturer’s instruction.
    – Effectiveness in improving air quality in a room is affected by presence of items that act as reservoir for allergen (ie. carpets, upholstered furniture, pets) and access to outside air. As people move around the house, allergens will continually be released from the reservoir into the air, making it less easy to be filtered out.
    – The presence of items that tend to be a reservoir for allergens (ie. carpets, upholstered furniture, pets) and lack of access to outside air reduces the effectiveness of the filter in improving air quality in a room. As people move around the house, allergens will continually be released from the reservoir into the air, making it less easy to be filtered out.
  3. Vacuum cleaner with HEPA filter
    – Effective in reducing cat and dog’s dander at home, less effective for dust mites.
  4. Mite-impermeable barrier
    – Encase pillows, mattresses, box springs, comforters and furniture with mite-impermeable barriers to reduce exposure to dust mites.
  5. Choice of home furniture
    – Opt for non-fabric furniture made from plastics, wood or leather and washable vinyl roller-type shades to prevent build up of animal dander and dust mites.
    – Minimize the number of children’s stuffed toys.
    – Minimize the use of carpets. These can be replaced with washable area rugs.
  6. Home cleaning frequency
    – Always wear a face mask while cleaning.
    – Change the sofa cushion and bed linen weekly.
    – Wash all bedding weekly in hot water (55oC) with detergent and allow it to dry under the sun / in an electric dryer on hot setting.
    – Vacuum your home weekly.
    – Clean moldy surfaces monthly with diluted bleach (30ml bleach diluted in 1 liter of water).


Information provided by the article is solely for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician, pharmacist or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information for diagnosis or treatment of a health problem or disease. Always speak with your physician, pharmacist or other healthcare professional before taking any medicine or supplement, or adopting any treatment for a health problem. Under no circumstances will Watson’s Personal Care Stores Pte Ltd be liable to any person for damages of any nature arising in any way from the use of such information


Additional references:

Written by: Helena Hor (Pharmacist)

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