Our son Ronin pretty much lost the genetic lottery when it comes to allergies.
He has sensitive skin. He’s allergic to dust, grass and peanuts. He’s intolerant to gluten and somewhat sensitive to dairy. He has reactive airway disease, which is similar to asthma but this comes on when he gets sick or has an allergy attack. The poor kid uses regular inhalers, nasal spray and he is often in need of allergy pills, particularly in the spring and summer when he’s out playing in the grass.
So making our home and environment more allergy friendly is hugely important for us. And trust me we have a LOT of experience in this area so my tips are tried and true. Of course I’m not a doctor so if you think you or your child have allergies, please talk to a medical professional.
Ronin’s allergy issues started to emerge as a young baby when I had trouble breastfeeding and he received part formula. It must have been the dairy in the regular formula that affected him because he started to have skin issues like eczema. Then at just over a year he vomited after having peanut butter. I didn’t know it at the time but apparently for some people with peanut allergy the anaphylactic reaction can occur in the stomach rather than the airways. Scary!
Then, at around a year and a half we took him to the hospital in the middle of the night for what we thought was a severe case of the croup. His breathing was compromised and he needed steroid treatments to open his airways. We later discovered that it was his reactive airway disease. Not only that, this type of asthma is affected by his dust and grass allergies! Spending time playing in dusty stuffed animals, for example, could affect his condition and we had no idea for years.
At about three years old, his gluten and dairy intolerance finally came to light when we took him to a naturopath for food testing. After that his night terrors, which he had also had since a baby stopped. My poor little boy and all of his troubles.
It took too many years of his young life to discover all of these things. Ronin suffered for so long. Once we found out and made several changes at home things got a little better. It’s not perfect, his allergy treatment is definitely a work in progress but things are so much better. I feel like we have more control and more knowledge about what helps him and what doesn’t. The same has been true for the rest of us too, with our dust and food allergies.
Tips to Create an Allergy-Friendly Home
So we have some real world experience when it comes to regular and seasonal allergies. I know what helps and what hurts, at least for us. When it’s time to think about creating a more allergy-friendly environment, it’s important to look at several areas of the home and even outside. Of course it depends on what types of allergies you have, food and/or environmental, but in general these are good tips to follow. Like I said above, if you suspect an allergy, please talk to your doctor or naturopath. I’ve also created a free Printable Tips Sheet for Creating an Allergy-Friendly Home that I hope will be helpful for you.
When allergies are present, it’s a good idea to wash clothing, towels and sheets often with allergy-friendly laundry products like all® free clear detergent, which is the #1 detergent recommended by Dermatologists, Allergists, and Pediatricians for Sensitive Skin.
all® free clear fabric softener and detergent were actually awarded the Seal of Acceptance by the National Eczema Association for having no dyes, perfumes, certain chemicals, and irritating residues, which is just awesome for my eczema-prone Ronin. The detergent is known to remove 99% of everyday and seasonal allergens including cat and dog dander, dust mite matter, ragweed, grass, and tree pollen. Again, exactly what we need in our house! Disclaimer: all® free clear is not intended to treat or prevent allergies. Be sure to follow the instructions on the packaging.
In the home overall, be sure to change out your air filter on a regular basis and keep the air circulation going. You don’t want your household air to get stagnant and filled with allergens.
If you’ve checked with your doctor and have special allergy medication, be sure to set up a spot in your home (and that you also carry with you) that everyone knows about. We have our medication box that I created with a recycled shoebox and duct tape (It’s up high where the kids can’t reach but John and I always know where it is.) And I have a special pouch in my purse that includes Ronin’s EPI Pen and one time allergy meds.
In the bedroom, where our little noses push right up against pillows and beds for hours at a time, it’s vital to think about allergens. Using allergen-repellent pillows and bed is a great idea. We use memory foam beds and pillows for this reason. If you don’t have memory foam, you can also purchase covers for your current pillows and bed that won’t let the allergens through. Another bedroom tip for those suffering with dust allergies is to avoid stuffed animals in the bed, or if you have kids who really love their stuffies, make sure they’re washed regularly.
If you suspect food and/or chemical allergies in your family, take the time to visit your doctor or naturopath to discover exactly what they are. It’s not always obvious what could be affecting you and how. Like I said, Ronin’s peanut allergy presened itself differently than most peanut allergies. His intolerance to gluten presented itself through night terrors.
This may seem obvious, but if you do discover an allergy do not buy food products with those allergens. I was certainly tempted to purchase peanut butter for the rest of the family after finding out about Ronin. I LOVE peanut butter, but in the end we decided that it’s best to live in a household sans peanuts to avoid any horrible accidents. It’s harder during times like Halloween of course, but we do our absolute best.
Also in the kitchen (and throughout the house) if you have a child with sensitive skin, use more natural cleaning products as much as possible.
In the bathroom, you’ll also want to use more natural chemical and fragrance free products such as soap, shampoo and conditioner. Don’t forget the toothpaste too! John actually discovered an allergy to SLS, commonly found in toothpaste, late in life. His mouth is so much happier since that discovery. Also, if you have sensitive skin, taking short baths and showers can be beneficial and less drying for sensitive skin. And even though regular washing of hands can be drying, it’s important to wash hands often to remove allergens and germs from hands. This practice has really helped Ronin, particularly when he does play in the grass.
Don’t neglect to think about your outdoor spaces, particularly if you or your child have seasonal or outdoor allergies. We actually just made a big move at our house this summer to remove all of the grass in the backyard. Granted, it’s a very small backyard but Ronin really has quite a strong grass response if he plays on it, so he tends to just avoid grass as much as possible. He didn’t spend much time in our backyard so we decided to just pull it all and cover it over with mulch. I think it would be even more fun to put down turf or build a giant deck, but that’s a project for another day. If you can’t remove your grass or pollen, watering the lawn regularly can be helpful to wash away some of the allergens present.
I hope these tips have been helpful for you. Don’t forget to download my free Printable Tips for an Allergy-Friendly Home. Do you have any other suggestions for things you’ve done to make your environment more allergy friendly?
Buy all® free clear at Target or other quality retailers.