Most of the time when you hear of someone being allergic to dust, it is actually the dust mites they are allergic to. No matter how clean your home is you cannot possibly eliminate all of the dust mites or their enzymes. Where there are people and animals, there will be dust mites. This is because they feed off of dead skin which turns to dust. In addition, homes which are located in climates that are dry or hot tend to have more dust than homes which are in cooler climates. Often, an allergy to dust is mistaken for a cold or flu. There is a difference between an allergy and a cold, of course. The following may be helpful in providing you with some information about dust allergies and how they may relate to your baby.
The first thing parents may notice if their baby has an allergy to dust mites is the presence of symptoms such as running nose, watering eyes, dark circles around the eyes and itchy irritated skin around the eyes and nose. Often there are even skin rashes which accompany allergies. A dry cough is also one of the symptoms which may occur with allergies to dust mites. Generally speaking, with allergies, these symptoms tend to occur more often in the morning than in the evening hours. These symptoms can present themselves with other illnesses as well. However, usually with allergies a telltale sign is the consistent occurrence of the same symptoms for a prolonged period of time. Another way to determine whether or not what your baby is suffering from is allergies or another type of illness is by the appearance of the fluids that run from his/her nose. Typically the fluids will be clear and watery with allergies, whereas with flu or other illnesses they will be yellowish in color and much thicker.
There are many things in your home which may cause your baby to experience allergy symptoms. Mold and pet dander are among the most common. In addition, dairy products can cause symptoms in a baby who is allergic at birth or develops an allergy in the early months of his/her life. The only way to be certain that your baby does in fact have an allergy to dust mites is to have him/her tested by a professional pediatric allergist. Usually a skin test is the preferred method of diagnosing allergies in babies or children. The way this skin test works is that a small amount of each potential allergen is injected at skin level, usually on the upper arm. If there is an allergy to any of the shots, the skin will become red and welt up at the specific site of injection. There are usually a series of things which are tested for including pollen, dust, foods and other possible known allergens.
What You Can Do to Protect Baby’s Room
While dust mites do live in just about all fabrics, they seem to thrive much more in bedding and pillows. This is of course because of the fact that they sustain themselves on our dead skin. What better place to find dead skin than on our pillows or linens. With this being said, the most effective way to protect your baby’s room is to use plastic coverings over the mattresses and pillows. This will help minimize the dust mites which may be living on the crib mattress or pillow. Make sure to use blankets rather than thick and plush comforters as the dust mites will not be as prevalent in them. In addition, you will want to be sure and wash all of your baby’s linens in hot water at least once a week, maybe more. Unless there are stuffed animals that your baby cannot live without, remove them from the room immediately. If there are a couple of stuffed toys that must be left, they should be washed at the same time as the linens, each week.
Protecting Your Other Rooms
Even though you can never completely eliminate dust or dust mites from your home, you can take measures to keep your house as clean and dust free as possible. Make sure you dust and mop at least once a week, preferably more if possible. In addition, make sure to use a high efficiency vacuum which is known to vacuum even the tiniest of dust particles. If you can afford to do so, take any carpet that is located in your house up and replace it with solid floors. Carpets are terrible for trapping dust in them. You will also want to use the best state of the art air filters in your cooling and heating system to ensure microscopic allergens and particles are filtered properly. Forget changing your air filter once a month if your baby is allergic to dust and change it once a week. It may be a bit more expensive but when it comes to your baby’s health it will surely be a worth while investment.
Treating Dust Allergies
There are many over the counter medications which have been approved for babies who are six months of age or older. If your baby is below the age of six months you will want to ask your pediatrician what you can use to help treat your baby’s allergy symptoms. In some cases, even with older babies and children, prescription strength medications will be necessary, depending on the severity of the allergies and how effective the medications you have been using are. There are many medications which are easy to administer and last for up to 24 hours with a single dose. These are the preferred form of allergy medications and can give your baby a much better quality of life.
Allergies are a nuisance and can cause your baby a lot of discomfort. In addition, whenever your baby is suffering you can become nervous and sleep deprived rather quickly. The good news is there are things you can do to help minimize the symptoms of allergies in your baby, in order to help you and him/her rest much easier. Many babies outgrow certain allergies as they get older. With that being said you may notice a significant decline in allergy symptoms as your baby grows from an infant to a child. Conversely, allergies which were not present in earlier years can develop later in life. Never rule out the possibility of allergies, no matter what your child’s age or medical history is.