Medically reviewed by Rosanna Sutherby, PharmD on March 25, 2020. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
We’re approaching spring, and while the blooming plants and trees are pleasant to look at, unfortunately, for the more than 50 million of us who suffer from seasonal allergies annually, these pretty blooms are often anything but pleasant.
The good news?
We’ve gathered some helpful tips and info about the different types of indoor and outdoor allergens and when to watch for them, as well as advice on how to relieve allergies—all year round.
With our easy at-home allergy test, you can check for 40 common indoor and outdoor allergens to find out what might be causing your uncomfortable symptoms.
Common outdoor allergens include trees, grasses, and weeds. Blown easily by the wind, these allergens are particularly prevalent on breezy days. Peak season for most trees and grasses is during the spring months (generally around March through May) when they pollinate, or blossom.
Weeds tend to pollinate later in the season after trees and grasses do, so keep that in mind if you’re experiencing allergy symptoms around late summer or early fall during their pollination season. Ragweed is a major cause of hay fever, but there are other weeds to watch for as well. (Hay fever occurs when the immune system overreacts to pollen in the air, causing a number of different symptoms like congestion, runny nose, and sneezing.)
Although outdoor allergens are obviously outdoors, that doesn’t mean you have to avoid the outside world altogether during peak allergy season. There are still some ways you can enjoy the outdoors and reduce your exposure.
So what helps with allergies? Read on for some top tips if you’re wondering how to stop allergies—or at least reduce their severity.
Track pollen counts
A simple way to reduce your exposure to outdoor allergens is to track pollen counts in your area. Various online resources can show you real-time pollen counts and forecasts based on your location. A simple online search for “allergy forecast” should do the trick.
Plan outdoor activities for certain times of day
Little-known fact: pollen counts tend to be highest during the morning hours between 5 and 10 a.m., so if outdoor allergens were high on your test results, one way to reduce your exposure and still enjoy the outdoors is to plan your activities for later in the day. Trade your morning run for a sunset jog. Take the dog for a walk after dinner. Opt for an indoor yoga class in the morning.
While unavoidable, you can still be better prepared for yourself outdoor allergens by trying to limit outdoor activity on high-count days, keeping the windows closed inside your home and in your car, and showering before bed just in case you accidentally brought any outdoor allergens home with you. By taking these steps, you may be able to reduce your allergy symptoms.
Indoor allergens, on the other hand, can be present all year round. The most common indoor offender: dust mites.
Microscopic creatures not visible to the naked eye, dust mites thrive in warm, humid environments, and are often found in carpets, mattresses, and couches. Like outdoor allergens, there are some simple ways you can reduce your exposure.
Housekeeping tips for dust mites:
And still some pesky allergens can be both indoors and outdoors. Pet dander, mold, and pests, to name a few. All of these allergens can cause unwanted symptoms like a stuffy nose, sneezing, itchy or watery eyes, and more. (Related: Is it an allergy or cold?)
Tips for pet dander
Pet dander can be a tricky one because it tends to grab onto things and stick to them like a magnet, whether that’s your clothing, furniture, bedding, or even your hair. Because dogs and cats like to hang out both outside and inside, this one can be a bit tough to manage because dander from pets you encounter outside can be carried into your home with you without you even knowing it. But don’t worry, there are plenty of simple ways you can reduce your exposure and tackle pet dander before it tackles you.
Keep your home clean
It’s as simple as that. Vacuum often, brush your pets outdoors if you have moderate or high reactivity to pet dander (or have a friend or family member do this for you), and try to keep pets off your bed or out of the bedroom. If you allow pets on furniture, give them a special spot.
Going over to someone’s house who has a pet? Ask your friends to throw you a bone (no pun intended). If you’re planning a get together with friends who have pets in their home, maybe ask them to keep their pets out of common areas while you’re around or ask them to keep their pets off the furniture. Suggest dining al fresco vs at a dining table frequented by Fifi. If possible, try to avoid carpeted areas that may have more dander buildup than hardwood or tile floors, for example.
Mold can be another common indoor and outdoor offender. Although it typically thrives in damp, humid environments and coastal areas, it can also be found in dry areas and desert climates.
A few ways to combat mold? Keep the temperature controlled in your home whether with a fan, air conditioner, or humidifier, and be sure to change filters regularly and watch for any water leaks. In damp places like bathrooms where mold may be more likely to grow, be vigilant about cleaning, and replace shower curtain liners, which may be susceptible to mold growth, often.
No one likes to think about pests like mice and cockroaches, but unfortunately, they’re a reality, particularly in urban areas. To reduce your exposure to these creepy crawlers, the same tips apply: keep your home clean.
Although allergens are prevalent both indoors and outdoors, some seasonally, and some throughout the year, being aware is the first step toward prevention. There are plenty of ways to reduce your exposure, so you can find relief and enjoy life, whether you’re snuggled up indoors or exploring the great outdoors.
With the Everlywell Indoor & Outdoor Allergy Test, you can check antibody reactivity levels to 40 different indoor and outdoor allergens—from the convenience of home. By identifying potential allergy triggers, you can take steps to reduce your exposure and relieve symptoms.
1. Allergy Facts. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. URL. Accessed March 26, 2020.
2. Outdoor allergens. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. URL. Accessed March 26, 2020.
3. Ragweed Pollen Allergy. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. URL. Accessed March 26, 2020.
4. Pollen. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. URL. Accessed March 26, 2020.
5. Dust mite allergy. Mayo Clinic. URL. Accessed March 26, 2020.
6. Pet Allergy: Are You Allergic to Dogs or Cats? Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. URL. Accessed March 26, 2020.
7. Mold Allergy. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. URL. Accessed March 26, 2020.