Environmental allergens

Many people are allergic to substances or particles in the environment. These allergens which trigger a variety of reactions ranging from mild to severe are often difficult to avoid and control. People may respond to environmental allergens by sneezing or scratching, they could have watery itchy eyes or their eczema may flare. Others may develop a runny nose and need to clear their throat of mucous whilst some allergens can trigger asthma symptoms in susceptible people.

Allergens in the environment include mould, plants (pollens), animals (saliva, pet hair and dander), cockroaches and house dust mite, naming just a few. Smoke and other irritants such as exhaust and strong chemical smells can also trigger allergic reactions. It is important to be properly diagnosed by a doctor so you can then do your best to avoid or reduce exposure to your trigger allergen/s. Allergic disease is very much about management as for the majority, it cannot be cured. Some people can be desensitised to some allergens including a variety of pollens and dust mite. Discuss desensitisation with your general practitioner who may then refer you to an allergist/immunologist.

How to Minimise Indoor & Outdoor Allergens

Click on the link below for ideas on how to possibly reduce exposure to environmental allergens

pdfMinimising Indoor and Outdoor Allergens at Home1.95 MB

Minimising Indoor Allergens at Home

Minimising Outdoor Allergens at Home

 Further Information on Allergen Minimisation

Pollen allergy

  • Stay indoors during pollen season (when possible). Keep windows closed particularly on windy days.
  • Stay indoors just before and during thunderstorms in pollen season to reduce the risk of thunderstorm asthma. Do not open doors or windows or go outside until the storm has passed. More information - https://www.allergy.org.au/patients/asthma-and-allergy/thunderstorm-asthma 
  • Air conditioning in the home or car should be set to recirculate on high pollen/thunderstorm days.
  • Avoid activities that lead to an increase in exposure to pollen, such as mowing grass.
  • Shower (including washing hair) after outdoor activities where exposure to pollen is high.
  • Wear sunglasses (reduces amount of pollen that gets into eyes).
  • Dry bedding and clothing inside or in a tumble dryer.
  • Information about pollen counts in Australia is available at https://auspollen.edu.au/

Dust mite allergy

  • Wash sheets, pillowcases and other bedding weekly in hot water (more than 60⁰0C)
  • Use dust mite resistant covers on mattresses, pillows, and quilts. Wash these in hot water as recommended (approximately every 8-12 weeks).
  • Remove sheepskins or woollen underlays from the bed and bedroom.
  • Preferably remove soft toys from the bedroom. Any soft toys that remain in the bedroom should be frozen overnight once a week to kill the dust mites, however this will not remove the allergen. Soft toys must be washed in hot water to remove the dust mites.
  • If possible, consider replacing carpets with hard floors such as floorboards/tile/linoleum.
  • Dust with a damp cloth
  • Vacuum carpets weekly

Pet dander allergy

  • If pet dander is causing only mild symptoms, consider keeping the pet outside.
  • Discuss removing the pet from the home if symptoms are severe and optimal treatment is not controlling the symptoms. However, it can take an average of 20 weeks before cat allergen levels drop to a house without a cat.

Mould allergy

  • Remove visible mould (e.g., with diluted bleach or diluted vinegar).
  • Ensure adequate ventilation (open windows to allow air flow).
  • Dry or remove wet carpet.
  • Fix any leaks.
  • Remove indoor pot plants as they can promote mould growth.
  • Do not mow lawns or work with garden compost or mulch.

For more information 


Content updated June 2022

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If you are having an allergic reaction follow advice on your ASCIA Action Plan.

If in doubt, give the Anapen® or EpiPen®.

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If you do not have an ASCIA Action Plan and/or an Anapen® or EpiPen® call triple zero (000) for an ambulance.