Does a clean house reduce asthma and allergies?

October 1, 2005

Families with children who have an allergy often take complex steps to provide a "clean" environment in the hope of reducing allergic reactions and asthma attacks. But do those steps really help?

Families with children who have an allergy often take complex steps to provide a "clean" environment in the hope of reducing allergic reactions and asthma attacks. But do those steps really help?

In an educational session held today during the American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition, Peyton Eggleston, MD, examined the effectiveness of several common techniques used to reduce allergens in the home environment, including removing carpet, washing bedding in hot water, and isolating pets. In the case of certain allergens, such as house dust mite, mold, and cockroach, creating and maintaining this type of clean environment can be very easy, involving only using fitted mattress and pillow encasings, controlling excess moisture, and washing bedding regularly. These measures have proven effective in reducing the appearance of asthma in infants in the home.

But with other allergens, the effectiveness of such measures just hasn't been proved. And for some families with a history of allergy and asthma, the only solution may be to avoid having a furry pet. Even then, the problem may not be entirely solved. As Dr. Eggleston pointed out, "Other children can carry animal dander into 'clean' environments, such as homes and schools, thus re-exposing the allergic child."