Pollen is nature’s glitter. You do your best to avoid it, but sometimes that’s simply impossible. Once it gets on you, not only is it hard to shake, it spreads to your surroundings. While you might not see a sparkle to warn you of its presence, trust me when I say it’s definitely there—which is a problem when one’s entire family has seasonal allergies, sensitive skin, and/or asthma. This is why I have a routine I slip into that helps lesson my family’s exposure and symptoms when the pollen comes a-pollinating.
Seasonal allergies can result in all sorts of discomforts ranging from sneezing fits to sinus migraines, scratchy throats to eczema outbreaks, watery eyes to OMG IS MY FACE EXPLODING? Those of us with allergies in the family tend to take steps to keep everyone comfortable—like avoiding triggering foods and picking pets with minimal dander—but sometimes forget to do the same when it comes to pollen.
Here are some of the things you can do to help minimize your family’s exposure to the sneeze dust, making everyone much more comfortable.
Upgrade Your Air Filters
Most HVAC units recommend changing out the air filters every three months. Have you ever looked at one that old? SO GROSS. We change ours every month during allergy season, and upgrade it to the kind that grabs the finest of particles, pollen, dust, mold, and more from the air.
Keep Windows Closed
I know, I know: you’ve been waiting MONTHS for windows-open weather! But open windows mean all that is outside will float in, giving those more susceptible to seasonal allergies zero breaks from exposure. If you insist on opening them up, do so only before dawn and early evening, when the pollen count is typically at its lowest for the day. Then seal them back up and run that HVAC fan to push the air through those high-quality filters so you don’t suffer at night.
Keep Shoes by the Door
Make your home a shoe-free place to prevent tracking all of nature inside, embedding it into the carpets and furniture. You’d be surprised by how much can be carried in by even the littlest of feet! And on that note, if your wee ones have gone stomping through the grass in bare feet, it’s a good idea to get them in the habit of wiping them off as soon as they come back in.
Keep a Cleaner House
I’m not a big fan of this one (um, hello, more work?), but it really does help to ensure dust doesn’t pile up on surfaces, carpets stay fresh, and couch cushion covers get washed more regularly. When it comes time to spring clean, make a list of things you need to take care of more often when pollen might make its way into your home, then delegate, delegate, delegate those extra chores to your offspring (this is why we had kids, right?). Oh—and get one of those dusters that grabs the dust/pollen, not just push it back up into the air.
Pillow Case Management
Pollen loves hair. What does hair spend the most time with? The pillows we sleep on at night. As we toss and turn, the pollen shakes from our hair onto the pillow, then we rub our face in it. If you’ve ever woken up with a sneeze while rubbing irritated eyes, this might be your problem. We have plenty of extra pillow cases in our home, so we can sleep on a clean one the first night, flip it over the second night, then replace it on the third, tossing the pollinated one into the wash.
Wash the Hair
When we’re out and about or near open windows in the beautiful weather, sticky bits of pollen pepper our hair, eyebrows, eyelashes, and skin. Ideally, a quick shower each night before bed will prevent you from festering in all those allergens throughout the night. No time for that? Take a warm washcloth to truly scrub your face clean, and rub it over your hair to wipe off as much as possible before bed.
Put on Your PJs
Your clothes are a magnet, too. Particles creep into the weave of your sweaters, settle onto your shirts and pants. While I’m typically a fan of re-wearing jeans and cardigans that aren’t technically dirty, it behooves me to wash them a bit more regularly during allergy season. Also, make sure that after you wash up for the night, you change into clean pajamas. Sleeping in the tee that you frolicked among flowers in will only result in puffy eyes and a case of Uuuuuuugh, come morning. The goal here is keeping as much pollen out of your bedroom as possible, from the windows to the bedding to you as you walk in there each night.
Wash Your Hands then Wash Them Again
As we go through our day opening car doors, touching railings, pushing shopping carts, and putting our hands on all sorts of things with pollen (and other unmentionables) on them, we’re also touching our faces. We don’t even realize we’re taking that pollen and putting it into our eyes, nose, and lips about fifteen times every hour, according to a study reported in the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Can I please say, “SO GROSS” again? Keeping hands washed and wiped clean as often as possible will help limit the amount of allergens we literally place on our vulnerable of face holes.
While you might not be able to tackle every one of these right away, make a few part of your new warm weather routine, and you’ll definitely reap the benefits. Little steps do add up, especially when it comes to self care during allergy season.