The practice of avoiding exposure to allergens (allergen avoidance) for allergic diseases such as asthma is not a new idea. In the 16th century the Archbishop of St Andrews had a miraculous remission of his intractable asthma by getting rid of his feather bedding, and in 1927 Storm van Leeuwen created a “climate chamber” in Holland in an attempt to recreate the beneficial environment of high altitude sanatoriums. This article focuses on how to avoid indoor allergens in homes in temperate climates and the potential benefits for sensitised patients with atopic disorders.
Nowadays most people spend more than 90% of their lives indoors. Over the past 30 years, the home environment has changed enormously with the introduction of soft furnishings, fitted carpets, and central heating. Indoor ventilation has decreased—the rate at which indoor air is exchanged for fresh air is now 10 times lower than it was 30 years ago, with a considerable increase both in humidity and in concentrations of indoor pollutants and airborne allergens. As exposure to allergens is an important cause of symptoms in sensitised patients, reducing exposure should improve disease control. In spite of this, few patients in Britain with asthma, eczema, or perennial rhinitis, or any combination of these, are skin tested.
Few patients in Britain with asthma, eczema, or perennial rhinitis receive advice on appropriate avoidance measures