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How to Reduce Allergens in the Home

The Martha Stewart Show, March 2011

Many of the most common causes of indoor allergies are found in the home. Manage your symptoms by reducing the amount of allergens in your home with these tips from Dr. Dean Mitchell of Long Island's Ocean Allergy and Asthma clinic, a pioneer in the use of oral allergy drop treatments.

Dust Mites
Dust mites, microscopic insects that live off human and animal skin scales, reside in almost all bedding materials, including pillows, mattresses, and comforters -- no matter how clean or immaculate the home.

Though they don't cause infections, mites are a well-known cause of allergies and asthma. To keep dust mites away from your skin, use a dust mite bed cover made from synthetic materials and wash bed linens weekly in hot water. Avoid comforters made from down, and protect your pillows with hypoallergenic covers. If possible, choose hardwood floors over wall-to-wall carpeting (dust mites can't live on hardwood) and leather furniture over dust-mite-friendly upholstered items.

Try: Martha Stewart Collection Allergy Wise synthetic pillow, standard pillowcases, down-alternative comforter, and complete protection mattress pad

Pet Dander
Animals can bring many things to our lives: unconditional love, quality companionship -- and small particles of dander that can stay in the air for months, causing severe allergic and asthmatic reactions. To prevent problematic pet dander from lingering in your home, take the same precautions outlined for dust mites, with one addition: Use an air purifier. A good air purifier will exchange about 80 percent of the air in the typical room five times each hour, filtering out irritants such as smoke, bacteria, viruses, molds, and pet dander.

Try: Honeywell HEPA air purifier

Bed Bugs
An increase in international travel and more lax pest control practices resulting from pesticide concerns have caused bed bug infestation to increase more than 200 percent across the country. Contrary to popular belief, bed bugs don't care if the setting is rich or poor: They reside in upscale hotels, luxury apartments, and even luggage.

While bed bugs don't transmit diseases, they do cause rashes and itching, and can be seen with the naked eye: Look for a black speck the size of an apple seed, or tiny blood spots, on your sheets. Place a bed bug barrier between you and your bed by using a hypoallergenic mattress and pillow protectors.

Try: Martha Stewart Collection bed bug mattress protector and bed bug pillow protector

Resources
Receive a 20 percent discount on the Honeywell HEPA air purifier by entering code MARTHA at checkout on allergycontrol.com.