Controlling the humidity is also a key to an allergy-free home. Some newer homes have humidity settings on the heater. "We recommend it be set below 50 percent relative humidity. We absolutely discourage the use of the in-room cool mist humidifiers. Although pediatricians love to recommend them, they actually cause more problems and can make the allergies worse," says Dr. Johnson.
While dust mites are common household organisms, some people are allergic to the proteins that they leave behind in carpets and bedding. Dr. Johnson suggests several things people can do to control the dust mite allergy problem including:
- Control the humidity, because dust mites do not grow well in a dry environment.
- Wash bedding in hot water and dry thoroughly in a hot dryer. "It is the heat and not the water that gets rid of the allergens. We recommend drying the bedding on a high heat setting for at least 30 minutes to really get rid of the allergens," he says.
- Get an allergy-free mattress or pillowcases for beds and pillows. "The cloth covers stay on the mattress and the sheet or pillowcase can go over them."
Although the best thing may be to remove household pets, for many families this is a difficult dilemma, according to Dr. Johnson.
"Cat allergen or dander (not hair) is quite pervasive. Dog allergen is a little easier to control," he says, noting that washing the pet does not prevent the dander or skin from causing allergies. "Because it can take up to six months for the cat allergen levels to start to decrease after a cat has been removed (or even up to a year for it to get better), at a minimum it is important to keep the pet away from the allergic child's bedroom," he says.
Door closers can be used to ensure the bedroom door stays closed at all times so the pet can't get in to sleep on the bed.