It can be a confusing and frustrating experience (at best) to contract hives without warning. If you’ve ever been blindsided by hives, you’re not alone–anyone can develop hives at any point in their life, regardless of whether or not they consider themselves an allergy-prone person.
If you think you may have developed hives–or if you’re someone who often has hives but can’t seem to understand where they’re coming from–it’s possible don’t know about a very common trigger for hives: your air.
It seems completely outrageous to suggest that you could be allergic to something as fundamental as air–it would be like suggesting you were allergic to drinking water. While it may sound like a rare condition reserved for only a 0.001% of the population, it’s much more common than we realize. Like water, our air is actually made of a mix of ingredients that we can’t see, and the balance of these ingredients is incredibly important.
Take a deep breath. The air you’re breathing is made up of a variety of factors that determine how clean and healthy it truly is. These factors include its levels of carbon dioxide, humidity, chemicals, temperature, and dust.
We often take for granted that we’re surrounded by air that’s clean since it’s–literally–out of sight, out of mind. But the truth is, it’s actually easy for air to become “dirty,” which can lead to a variety of health problems. This is especially true for the air we’re breathing indoors, since it can be 5x more polluted than outdoors. Indoor air–especially the air in our homes–can easily give us allergic reactions that lead to hives, given the right conditions.
So what exactly does it take for the air to give you hives, or make your existing hives worse? Two very simple components of your air: its levels of dust and chemicals.
Unfortunately, these are unavoidable–which is fine! We’ll help you keep your air healthy and safe for your skin with a few very easy tricks:
Dust triggers allergies for about 20 million Americans, and unlike pollen, dust can occur year-round, especially in your home. One piece of dust contains a potpourri of unpleasant items, like dead skin, mold spores, pieces of dead insects, and pet dander.
Dust isn’t always easy to see, and when it settles on your skin it can easily become irritated. Unfortunately, your house can have dust mites even if it isn’t very dirty. Sometimes cleaning can do more harm than good–vacuuming can stir up dust mites off your carpet and into the air.
How can you keep dust and dust mites at bay, then? Since many cleaning techniques can actually create more dust, it’s important to know how to properly keep your home clean–we broke down the best techniques here. Dust mites love dark, moist places, with temperatures of 70℉ or higher and humidity over 75%. Regulating your temperature and humidity can help prevent dust mites from spreading throughout your house.
Many of us don’t realize how incredibly common it is to have chemicals in our air, but it’s highly likely that you’re breathing chemicals right now. That’s because the type of chemicals found in your air–volatile organic compounds, or VOCs–are found in virtually every corner of your house–from your cleaning supplies, to your furniture (including cribs), to the packaging on new products you buy, to the paint on your walls.
VOCs damage the skin’s natural protective barrier and cause it to retain less moisture and become irritated. When we inhale VOCs often, we can develop allergies over time, which will cause our skin to react with a hives breakout.
The best way to keep your VOCs at bay is to pay attention to the ingredients list on the items you’re bringing into your home, then opting for cleaner alternatives. We’ve listed out the most common causes for VOCs (and how you can prevent them) here.
We want to help you use your air as an ally to help keep your skin healthy. The best way to have a complete understanding of whether the air in your home is safe is to have an indoor air quality monitor, like Awair, which tracks toxins and chemicals in your air and provides personalized recommendations to help you stay safe and healthy.
If you’re interested in learning what’s in the air in your home so you can start taking control of your health, you can learn more about Awair here.