House dust? What is house dust exactly?

Nowdays people claim to have dust allergy.   What does this mean?

Image result for components of house dust

House dust is considered to be a major factor in this case.

What is house dust? The dust in our house. It’s everywhere! in the beds, mattresses, pillows, carpets, curtains, sofa covers, soft toys,and practically every furniture.

Daily dust settles everywhere. on the carpets, surfaces, etc.

It’s a mixture of dead skin, house dust mites, pollen,fungus, fabric fibres, hair and animal fur, pieces of plastic. bits of dead insects like cockroaches. garden and outside dirt.


Image result for components of house dustImage result for components of house dust

Infants and small children, invalids, people who spend a lot of time indoors have a lot of exposure of dust.

This dust can soak up a lot of cosmetics and chemicals. organic pollutants, metals and hormonal disruptors. phenol preservatives,

Image result for aerosolsImage result for cigarette smoke

Some chemicals like flame retardant ar  directly transferred  to dirt.

Deodorants, fragrance, mosquito repellants, cigarrete smoke, agarbattis, all these are irritants found in the home. They make allergies worse.

Image result for incense

Tips for prevention of Dust Allergies.

The more the furnishings, the more the dust. So it’s a good idea to minimise the furniture.

Dusting and shaking will raise the dust in the house, so vacuuming is always a good idea.

Image result for vacuuming

Vacuuming of mattresses and pillows is also recommended.

Allergy-proof covers. 

They are easily available online, and in pharmacy and  furniture stores. They are made of special fibre to prevent the dust from mattresses from coming out. They can be used on mattresses and pillows, over which the bedsheet and pillow covers can be put.

Image result for allergy proof covers

While going out, wear protective masks, and while doing cleaning at home.

Image result for anti allergic mask

You can use a dehumidifier or a HEPA filter at home if dust allergies are too severe.

NEXT: Importance of Fungal allergens.

What are the plants that cause pollen allergies in India?

There are lots of plants in India. Not all of them cause allergies.

Various labs offer blood tests for allergies but they include the European panel for allergies which is not applicable to pollen allergies in India.

Out of the various blood tests offered, rest are obsolete. RAST ,and total IgE tests are not reliable. The skin prick test is highly accurate for allergy testing. Standardised allergens are available in India which have been used for the allergy skin prick test.

The plants which cause allergies vary from place to place. i.e. coconut tree pollen is more prevalent at the coastal regions , while open grassland will have more exposure to weeds and pollen. Towards North India you will be exposed to another set of plants, and towards Kashmir ,etc you can get deciduous trees, even pine trees.

Image result for coastal regionImage result for plains

Image result for hilly areas

Like  I mentioned, all trees do not cause allergies. Trees which have insect borne pollen have heavier pollen. This pollen does not fly easier for long distances and so is less allergenic.

It is best to consult your local botanist to know about local trees and shrubs and grasses and the time of pollination for them.

From my experience I will be stating some grasses and plants and trees which can cause allergy in India.

Parthenium Hysterophorus or congress grass. 

Image result for parthenium

It’s a highly invasive weed found in America, Asia, Africa, Australia and the Pacific islands. It’s endemic to America. It found it’s way to these places through low quality wheat PL 480 wheat imported in 1950.  from America. Seeds of parthenium were contaminating the wheat. It grows on open grassland, vacant plots, etc. It’s a poisonous plant as contact with it’s leaves and parts can cause itching.

It’s pollen is perennial that it it’s found throughout the year. Peak seasons are in June, July.

synonyms: congress grass, gajar ghass, etc

It’s not to be confused with common ragweed Ambrosia Artemisifolia

Mesquite or Prosopis Juliflora 

Image result for prosopis

A very common allergen present throughout the year. Peak months from April onwards to December. Common in desert areas like Rajasthan, open plots.

This is an invasive species introduced to open grasslands due to excessive grazing.

Durva, Doob grass, Bermuda grass, Cynodon Dactylon

Image result for CynodonRelated image

It’s a common allergen, and is used in Lord Ganesha’s Puja. It’s commonly grown in sports fields along with other grasses.

Throughout the year with peak seasons from May to October

Coconut tree or Cocos Nucifera

Image result for Coconut tree flower

Common in coastal regions. pollen is present throughout the year.

Raintree or Samanea  or Albizia Saman

Image result for Raintree

You will recognise this tree in most major cities, especially on the sides of the road and railway tracks.

Most prominent from April to July

Ricinus Communis castor oil

Image result for castor oil tree

Highly allergenic, present throughout the year.

Papaya tree or Carica Papaya

Image result for papaya tree

Well known as following the dengue fever outbreaks, Papaya leaves were in great demand. It’s pollen is present throughout the year.

Amaranthus or Chauli, Chenopodium or Bathua


Image result for amaranthusImage result for chenopodium

Pollen of these plants cause allergies. However, they can be eaten.

Xanthium and Agreratum

Image result for xanthiumImage result for ageratum

found on a trek in the jungle

Lots of other plants are there. Timothy grass is not much of a problem in India, as Hazel, Oak, Birch ,etc. These pollens tested for in Lab blood tests are irrelevant for allergies in India

Mangifera Indica or Mango tree, Neem tree or Azadirachta Indica

Image result for MangiferaImage result for neem tree

Common from March till May

Eucalyptus or Nilgiri.

Image result for eucalyptus

Common throughout the year.

Next…House dust

Am I allergic to pollen in the City?

When you’re out in the garden for your morning walk, you sneeze a lot, your eyes are watering, your nose is running. this happens more in the summer months and especially in warm climates… these are signs of hay fever or pollen allergy. We will come to hay fever, but first……

Image result for pollen

What is pollen?

This question is a bit surprising, but a lot of my patients are not aware what pollen is

The yellow dust found in flowers is known as pollen. It’s the form of reproduction of plants and so travels from plant to plant. This could be through the air or stuck to the body of insects. This is known as pollination.

Image result for pollen Image result for pollen

Plants with bigger colorful flowers are specially designed to attract insects. They have larger and heavier pollen. This pollen travels from plant to plant stuck to the body of insects and have less chance of causing allergies.

On the other hand, plants like grasses, etc have smaller or unattractive flowers. Their pollen travels from plant to plant via the wind, and can be blown for distances upto more than 100 km.

What is hay fever? 

In the warm summer months, especially where there are open grasslands, where dried grass or hay is released, lots of pollen is released in the air. This pollen travels long distances and reaches your home and place and makes you sneeze.

Pollen allergies can cause itching of eyes, rashes and swelling all over the body too.

Pollen allergies and global warming: 

Pollen allergies are becoming more and more common as the weather gets warmer. In the weather more plants are stimulated to pollinate, and more and more pollen is released in the air, giving exposure to more and more people.

Am I allergic to pollen in the Cities?


Related image

Contrary to proper belief, plants and greenery are all around you in the city. Big trees, all around. Parks, lawn grass. Durva grass offered to Lord Ganesha. Outskirts of cities and open fields, lots of weeds and shrubs growing wild, Vacant lots. All this pollen blows into your house and causes allergies.

School children playing games on grassland and in gardens are prone to allergies.

How to prevent pollen allergies?

pollen is released early morning and late evening. Avoid going for walks at that time. Wear full sleeves and a mask. On going home take a shower and put all the clothes for washing.

Environmental pollutants, petrol diesel fumes, cigarette smoke, etc, causes more irritation and make pollen allergies worse.

Nowadays, various ornamental plants are encouraged to be planted. These plants have pollen which is not allergenic.

Immunotherapy helps a lot for pollen allergies!

I’ve discussed about immunotherapy in the previous blog. Immunotherapy drops and tablets are available for pollen allergies. It is a safe, natural way of overcoming your allergies and no side effects.

NEXT: Some common plants in India responsible for pollen allergy

Dust mites….tiny but troublesome!

Sheela was worried. Her 8 year old Rohan was not doing well at school. He constantly was sneezing, with a runny and stuffy nose. He used to miss school and games, because he was too unwell to attend. He used to get worse whenever she was cleaning the house and in damp weather. He was their only child and he slept with  his mom and dad in the same room. they had the AC on every night. He was worse since they shifted to their new town, which was near the sea. The weather was warm and humid, and mold used to form in the bathroom. After the rains the clothes in the cupboard had a musty smell too. She consulted with her paediatrician, who decided that an allergy test had to be done for him. The doctor asked him a few questions after which he was tested for a selected few allergens, and was found to have strong dust mite allergy. The doctor told Sheela how to take care of things at home, and he was given immunotherapy. After a few months Rohan started feeling better, and his grades started improving at school.

What was bothering Rohan?

the culprit was the house dust mite.

Image result for shutterstock dust mites

What are dust mites?

Thanks to awareness in general, and on the internet, a lot of you are aware of the house dust mite. But many of you may not know what they are.

House dust mites are tiny insects of the mite family. They are small, whitish insects barely visible to the naked eye. being 0.5 mm in length.They are globular in shape, with hair on their legs and body. They are not to be confused with bed bugs, as they do not bite. They are the major cause of allergy in most of the continents, including Europe, North America, Asia and Australia.

The common species of dust mites in Europe and America are Dermatophagoides Pteronyssinus and D farinae. In hot tropical regions, Blomia Tropicalis is a major dust mite causing allergy.

Where can they be found?

They are commonly found in mattresses, pillows, bed sheets, blankets, pillow covers, carpets, curtains, upholstery, soft toys, etc. Even in the clothes cupboard, Air conditioning, on your furry pets, etc.

Image result for dust mites

How do they cause allergies, if they don’t bite?

Dermato=skin, Phagoides=to eat. The name itself suggests that they eat skin. That means they are mini dead-skin eating monsters. The image below shows it all.

Image result for dust mites life cycle

How to manage dust mite allergy?

Dust mites like a warm and humid climate. They get destroyed by extreme heat and extreme cold.

If you are allergic to something the first thing you have to do is avoid it.

Dust mites are a little difficult to avoid. Precautions start at home itself. Get rid of all the extra carpets, soft furnishings. Or else you will have a regular chore of vacuuming. Soft toys have to be washed with hot water or frozen. Bed-sheets, blankets, pillow covers, etc should be washed with hot water and dried in the sun. Mattresses and pillows have to be aired in the dry sun and vacuumed properly.

You may require a dehumidifier or a HEPA  filter too, if symptoms are extreme.

Allergy proof covers

Image result for allergy proof covers

They are made of fine weave fabric. They stop micro particles like dust mite pellets, etc from passing through. They can be washed once in a few months. They are encasing of mattresses and pillows, on which you can spread your bed-sheets and pillow covers.


You must consult your doctor if you have troublesome symptoms. You will be prescribed appropriate medication. Some tablets and topical sprays have to be taken long term to have a good effect.


Medicines help to control the symptoms. Once you stop the medication the symptoms will return. In that case immunotherapy helps, especially for dust mite allergies.

What is Immunotherapy?

In immunotherapy the main allergen extract is given in gradually increasing doses. This makes the body resistant to the allergen, and reduces the reaction to exposure and symptoms of allergy.

It is a natural extract. There’s no allopathic, homeopathic, steroids or sedatives involved. i.e.NO DRUGS are involved.

How is it given?

It can be given in injection form or as sublingual form. that is drops are given below the tongue.

Image result for immunotherapy allergy

The injections have to be given in the proper hospital setting, with monitoring and observation for half an hour before letting the patient go home. The oral drops are safe, and once the patient is instructed on how to take the drops, they can take it at home safely.

Image result for immunotherapy allergy

How much time does it take for immunotherapy to be effective?

This varies for different people. It takes a few months, in some people a few weeks. Till then the patient has to continue with his symptomatic medication.

How long does a patient have to take immunotherapy? How long does it’s effect last after stopping of immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy has to be taken for atleast 3-5 years. it’s effect will last then for 10-12 years. However, if you feel better and stop it after a few months, your symptoms will be back within the year. Therefore, completion of the course is necessary.

Immunotherapy doses and schedules vary. They are customised as per patient. They can be given twice a week or even daily.


What causes allergies?

Hi. Welcome back.

In the previous blog we had a brief overview of what is the meaning of allergy. Now I’d like to discuss about what can cause allergies in our body.

As discussed previously, once a foreign substance enters the body, it causes allergic reaction on exposure the second time.

Image result for allergy

Allergens can enter the body by



contact with the skin, and eyes.

Inhalation: There are minute particles of allergy causing substances in the air. We breathe in these particles. This is known as inhalation, and these allergens are known as inhalants.                                 

Related imageImage result for pollenImage result for fungus

Examples of inhalant allergens are pollen, dust mites, saw dust, spider dust, paper dust, house dust, sheep’s wool, rice, wheat dust, etc, fur and feathers of animals and birds, fungal spores in the air.

Image result for pets

You can get sneezing, itching, running nose, and in long term stuffiness of the nose, within half an hour of inhaling these things.

Ingestion: various foods can cause allergy after eating. The most common are milk and milk products, wheat, soyabean, egg, seafood, tree-nuts and peanuts..

Image result for allergy food

You can get diarrhea, stomach upset, rashes, urticaria and angioedema, swelling of the lips, eyelid and face, breathing difficulty after ingestion of these foods. In severe allergies even inhaling food can cause a reaction known as anaphylactic shock. In this reaction your blood pressure goes down, face, tongue and airways swell up, causing choking and making breathing difficult. this is life threatening and has to be treated immediately with adrenaline injections below the skin.

Severe allergies to peanuts, seafood, etc are seen in the western world, so that patients have to carry along with them epi-pen or readily injectable adrenaline.

Food allergies are common in children, and atopic dermatitis and rashes. They eventually grow out of it. But allergies to certain foods like milk and wheat can persist through life.

Drug allergies: Sometimes certain medication may not agree with you. this can cause severe reactions like shock, skin eruptions, etc.

What is the difference between intolerance and allergy?

Allergic reactions are when your body is highly sensitive to a substance introduced

Some fruits,cheese, etc contain a histamine like substance which can trigger an allergy type of response.

Sometimes, if you are allergic to pollen, you can get local irritation in the mouth after eating certain fruit.This is called the ‘oral allergy syndrome.’

In intolerance you cannot process the particular substance, i.e. in lactose intolerance, the enzyme which digests lactose at the gut lining is deficient. In gluten intolerance the same mechanism comes to play.

Hyperactivity can occur in children due to excess caffiene, energy drinks.

Chronic allergic reactions can lead to long term changes in the digestive system such as eosinophilic oesophagitis leading to thickening and narrowing of the gut lining.


Image result for contact dermatitis jewelleryImage result for drugs

If certain substances touch your skin, you can get rashes, swelling and itching, with patches. These could be food, pollen, dust, dust mites, fungi and a variety of allergens.

Certain chemicals, cosmetics, nickel from cheap jewellery , topical ointment, eye and ear drops can cause contact irritation too.

Insect bites and stings:  Honeybees, wasps, ants, mosquito, can cause a severe allergic reaction. In some cases even fatal

Related image

Thus, we can state that allergies are troublesome as they affect the quality of living and work. In some cases allergies can be fatal too.

NEXT: Each allergen will be dealt with one by one in detail.



Allergies? An upcoming lifestyle disease?

Hi everyone! This is my first blog for my site. I’ll like to clarify a few things about allergy in this post. Hoping to make things better for all of you and your allergies in future.

What do you exactly mean by allergy?

Allergy means an altered response of the body. The body has natural defense mechanisms, the immune system,which handle any foreign substances which enter the body such as microbes and bacteria. Sometimes, if a foreign protein enters the body, the immune system overreacts to that protein, and can cause a  reaction which is harmful.

What are the natural defense mechanisms of the body?

The natural barriers of the body are the skin, mucosal lining of the nose, windpipe, foodpipe and the digestive system as a whole. Any breach in these layers exposes the body to allergen. however, below these barriers is a layer of antibodies and specialised white blood cells.

what causes allergy?

A foreign substance introduced in the body. This is a protein or part of it known as an allergen. you can eat it, breathe it in, or if it comes in contact with your skin. Once it crosses the natural barriers of the body it gets introduced to the immune system. You may not have a reaction the first time, but once the body develops antibodies to the particular allergen, on subsequent exposure you can get some severe allergic reactions.

What are the symptoms of allergy?

Running nose, sneezing ,itchy eyes, stomach upset, diarrhea, vomiting, rashes. In extreme cases you can get a life threatening reaction called anaphylaxis in which you get into shock. Swelling of  lips and face and occasionally of the tongue and voice box can lead to choking.

Why is allergy a lifestyle disease?

We can see in today’s world allergies are more rampant than 20-30 years ago.  Lifestyle changes, global warming, all have lead to increasing allergies.

Lifestyle changes: Earlier, we used to be more exposed to nature. Deliveries used to be conducted at home. Kids used to play outside in the dirt and with animals. This boosted their immune system as they used to be exposed to a lot of allergens. Nowadays kids are born in the hospital in a sterile environment and extensively protected.

More of an Urban lifestyle with closed environment , air conditioning and central heating leads to over exposure to dust mites, fungi, and other indoor allergens. early weaning, exposure to processed food, and early introduction of cow’s milk to the diet of children predispose to allergies.

Global warming: Warm climate predisposes more to plants releasing their pollen in the atmosphere more quickly and frequently. this leads to more and more pollen allergies.

Next: What are the main things that cause allergy.