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Allergies in Winter

Your home is your sanctuary during the winter, a cozy spot to spend time with your family and friends. Unfortunately, winter allergens include many substances found right in your home. If you suffer from perennial allergic rhinitis — or year-round allergies — here are some suggestions your winter allergy action plan.


Can You Have Allergies in the Winter?

If pollen counts drop to zero after the first frost, how can you have allergies in winter? It’s a good question — pollen is in fact less of a problem in winter. However, when it’s cold outside, you spend more time exposing yourself to indoor allergens. These substances can be just as allergenic, if not more so, than spring and summer pollen .

Causes of Allergies in Winter

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Dust Mites

Dust mites are microscopic bugs that live on dead human skin and pet dander. These pests are found anywhere dust particles collect. Even if you’re a neat freak, it’s impossible to rid your home entirely of this common indoor allergen .

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Pet Dander

The proteins found in animals’ skin cells, saliva and liquid waste cause the symptoms of pet allergies. These particles are so light that they can become airborne with the slightest breeze and can stick to your shoes, clothes, skin and hair.

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Mold can shed spores all year. Since mold thrives in damp spaces, mold allergy symptoms may be worse in rooms like bathrooms, laundry rooms or crawl spaces. Outdoor mold can form in shady, damp areas.

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In warmer climates, pollen allergies can be a problem all year round. Additionally, during mild winters, pollen season can start as early as January or February. Learn more about how to alleviate pollen allergy symptoms.

How to Help Reduce Allergies in Winter

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Clean Up

During the winter, it’s normal to spend more time inside. That makes cleaning even more important than usual. Dust, mop and vacuum regularly to help get rid of dust mites and pet dander. Clean bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms with mold -killing cleaners. Wash your clothes, hands and face to remove allergenic particles. Each week launder your bedding in hot water — a water temperature of at least 130°F will kill dust mites .

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Keep Humidity in Check

You might think of winter as a drier time than usual, thanks to the furnace running 24/7. But mold can still thrive in damp areas, like your basement. So can dust mites — they “drink” by absorbing moisture, so they’re most prevalent in humid areas. To help keep mold from growing and dust mites from thriving, keep the relative humidity in your home below 50 percent. Air circulation from furnaces, dehumidifiers and ceiling fans help keep your home dry.

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Filter the Air

Properly filtering the air in your house is one of the best ways to help keep from breathing in airborne particles — especially when you are indoors more than usual. Be sure to change your furnace filter regularly to trap dust more efficiently. Use an air purifier in bedrooms to reduce allergens.

Could It Be a Cold?

Wondering if your seasonal sniffles are winter allergies or a cold? Find out five differences.


  1. Pet Allergy. Mayo Clinic. Accessed April 1, 2020.
  2. Do You Need an Air Filter? WebMD. Accessed March 24, 2020.
  3. Dust Mite Allergy. Mayo Clinic. Accessed April 1, 2020.

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Information provided by Pollen.com