The Secret to Surviving Allergy Season

Those tiny pollen particles that float through the air? You know, the ones that cause itchy eyes and a runny nose if you suffer from seasonal allergies? They attach to the fibers in your clothes and continue to aggravate your symptoms—wherever you go.

That's because you are essentially transporting allergens, carrying them with you and depositing them on other fabrics and surfaces.

The most common indoor and outdoor allergens—molds, dust, pollens, dust mites, and animal dander—collect on your clothing (and in your hair) throughout the day. From there, they are easily transferred to and from car seats, furniture, rugs, linens, and just about any surface in your home or office.

In fact, forensic scientists have been able to help convict suspected criminals by vacuuming and identifying tiny grains of pollen from the clothing they were wearing when arrested to link them to a crime scene.

Reducing Your Exposure to Allergens

You may not be able to avoid the allergy-aggravating particles that cling to your clothes, but you can take steps to control them.

The number one secret to surviving allergy season: strip off your clothes. "After being outside all day, change your clothes as soon as you come in so you don't bring pollen and outdoor allergens inside," says Jennifer Collins, MD, New York City-based allergy and asthma specialist.

Additionally, she suggests these other smart tips to reduce exposure and your symptoms:

  • On days when the pollen count is especially high, rinse off in the shower to remove any allergens from your body—especially if you've spent a lot of time outdoors, for example, walking, hiking, gardening, mowing the lawn, or raking leaves.
  • When you undress, immediately place your clothing in a laundry bag, to be washed as soon as possible.
  • If you have multiple or severe allergies, take a shower every night and wash clothing more often.
  • Avoid hanging clothes outside to dry during allergy season.
  • Delicate fabrics that can't be cleaned in a washing machine and dried in a dryer need to be dry-cleaned more often.
  • While wearing a wide-brimmed hat prevents pollen from blowing directly into your eyes and nose, that hat needs a good shaking out—away from your body—before you bring it back into your home. If possible, clean it before you wear again.
  • If you have a dog, you also need to minimize the allergens your pet carries into your home. His fur coat needs brushing (outdoors, of course) and frequent baths.

Jennifer Collins, MD, reviewed this article.



Jennifer Collins, M.D.
Allergy & Asthmas Specialist
Brooklyn, New York 11211

Arizona State University School of Life Sciences: Pollen: Nature's Tiny Clues

University of Michigan

Yale Health: Allergy Tips: Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis and Conjunctivitis