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Humidifiers and Allergies

Parenting Tips

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Updated December 12, 2004

While parents often use a cool mist humidifier when their child is congested or has a runny nose, keep in mind that may make their allergies worse, especially if they are allergic to dust mites and mold.

Remember that dust mites and mold like high humidity levels, so a humidifier will likely increase their levels and make your child's allergies even worse.

In this situation, you actually want to keep humidity levels low. An air conditioner or dehumidifier can help to keep humidity levels low, and below 50 percent if possible.

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences offers these other tips to help control dust mites including that you:

  • Encase your mattress and pillows in dust-proof or allergen impermeable covers (available from specialty supply mail order companies, bedding and some department stores).
  • Wash all bedding and blankets once a week in hot water (at least 130 - 140 degrees F) to kill dust mites.
  • Replace wool or feathered bedding with synthetic materials and traditional stuffed animals with washable ones.
  • If possible, replace wall-to-wall carpets in bedrooms with bare floors (linoleum, tile or wood).
  • Use a damp mop or rag to remove dust. Never use a dry cloth since this just stirs up mite allergens.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner with either a double-layered microfilter bag or a HEPA filter to trap allergens that pass through a vacuum's exhaust.
These tips were submitted by Vincent Iannelli, MD from Dallas, Texas.

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