Your throat feels scratchy after you clean your bathroom. Your hands are red and irritated after using the antibacterial hand soap that sits next to your kitchen sink. You find yourself coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose after cleaning your house.
You may be developing a chemical allergy.
According to WebMD, a chemical allergy happens when your immune system overreacts to chemicals that haven’t bothered you before. These chemicals can be found in everyday products like shampoos, soaps, cleaners and lotions.
“Even if you’ve used them before,” WebMD cautions, “you can still have a reaction.”
Symptoms of chemical allergies
As with seasonal allergies, people who develop chemical allergies can experience coughing, wheezing, skin irritation, red or itchy eyes, runny nose — the whole nine yards of allergy symptoms. But Johns Hopkins Medicine lists more dangerous symptoms of chemical allergies:
- Shortness of breath
- Increased heart rate
- Chest pain
- Warmth or redness in face and neck, called “flushing”
It’s not just cleaning products that can cause or contribute to chemical allergies. Sometimes, you can have the perfect storm of triggers. Johns Hopkins lists these common chemical allergy triggers:
- New carpeting or furniture
- Perfumes and other products with fragrance
- Dust storms
- Forest fires
- Cleaning fluids
- Pesticides and herbicides
Seasonal allergies + chemical allergies: A one-two punch
In addition to chemical allergies, this is an especially tough year for seasonal allergies. Newspapers from coast to coast report that people are experiencing worse-than-usual allergy symptoms — and if you’re one of them, it’s not “news” to you.
Pollen counts are up by as much as 20%, fueled by longer warm seasons. Allergy season has extended by almost a full month, so not only are symptoms more bothersome, they last longer. The culprit, according to a 2021 study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) is climate change. The study cites temperature-driven increases in airborne pollen and increasing pollen concentrations as contributing to “major respiratory health consequences” for allergy and asthma sufferers.
What you can do
Any way you slice it, allergies can make you miserable. You can’t do much about dust storms, forest fires or the amount of pollen that’s in the air. But you can make some changes to create a home that’s free of allergens and triggers. Here are some ideas for creating an oasis of safety from allergy symptoms.
Use fragrance-free cleaning products. Heavy fragrances in cleaning products are known chemical allergy triggers.
Use natural cleaning products. Many cleaning products on the market today contain harsh chemicals. Using natural products eliminates your exposure to those fumes.
Vacuum often. Whether you have hardwood floors or carpet, vacuuming with a HEPA filter will pick up pollen, dust, dirt and other allergens.
Focus on your front and back doorways. An oft-overlooked part of housecleaning, your front and back entryways are the first line of exposure when family and pets come in from outside, tracking pollen, dust and other allergens with them.
Groom your pets. In addition to pollen and dust, your pets’ dander could be causing some of your symptoms. Having Fido groomed often can cut down on this exposure.
Wash your sheets in hot water. We know, using cold water saves energy and money. But hot water kills dust mites, which can be a major irritant. For this one load per week, make it hot.
Clean your house more often. This may sound counterintuitive, considering some cleaning products can be the source of the problem. But, using natural, fragrance-free cleaning products will allow you to keep your house clean and free of dust and allergens, while also keeping you safe from harsh chemicals.
At Nature Lake, we’re committed to providing you with those natural products. We’re doing all we can to help you combat chemical and seasonal allergies.