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Can Indoor Plant Cause Allergies? (Signs, Good & Bad Plants & Prevention)

Many people fail to realize that indoor plants are causing their allergies. Certainly, indoor plants can cause allergies with their pollens or if you directly touch the plants.

Allergies from indoor plants can cause problems like itching, swelling, eczema, asthma, etc. So if you’ve had allergies lately, you might want to check your houseplants and find out which one of them is causing the problem.

As a general rule, if you are allergic to pollen, any flowering plants like peace lilies, marigold, orchids, or spider plants can irritate your skin and lead to an allergic reaction. A runny nose, watery eyes, and rashes are the most common signs of plant allergy in human beings.

Indoor plants like Golden Pothos, Lady Palm, and Dracaena are some excellent choices as these are allergy-friendly plants.

If you think your indoor plant is causing allergies, you can give it to someone not allergic to them and get a different plant for yourself that will not cause allergies.

Keep reading to find all the information about allergies caused due to indoor plants and how to deal with them.

Plant allergy

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Can you be allergic to indoor plants?

Both humans and pets can be allergic to indoor plants. If you have a flowering houseplant, the pollen of the flowers can cause allergies and irritation.

Even if the pollen is not harmful, the immune system identifies it as something harmful and releases chemicals that help to fight against the pollen. This is what causes allergic reactions. The pollens that lead to such issues are called allergens.

So when you inhale these pollens, you may experience a runny nose, sneezing, congestion, watery eyes, etc.

You might even be allergic to the liquid that comes out of different parts of the plant. This is called sap. If you are touching your indoor plants while cleaning them or repotting them, you may touch the sap of the plants that cause skin irritation.

Therefore, you must always use gloves to prevent the sap from getting on your skin while touching your indoor plants.

Babies and children may show more allergies if they touch the sap as their skin is more sensitive. If they ingest a part of your houseplant, the sap might cause internal allergies like shortage of breath, diarrhea, vomiting, etc.

Therefore, keep them away from indoor houseplants to avoid causing allergies to them.

Looking for a readymade indoor plant soil mix that you can open and pour? Check out rePotme. They offer a wide range of readymade soil premixes for all your indoor plants.

Can your pets be allergic to indoor plants?

Even your pets can be allergic to indoor plants. Pollens can react the same way on your pets as they do on you.

If your pets inhale the pollens in the air or touch the pollens with their paws and touch their face with their paw, their immune system will consider the pollens as dangerous and overreact to it, causing allergies.

When it comes to the sap of the plants, pets can easily get exposed to it as they are curious and might touch and bite the plants that they come across.

The sap can affect the digestion of the plants, and you might notice issues such as vomiting, diarrhea, oral irritation, swelling, etc. If you find any peculiar behavior in your pets, take them to the vet immediately instead of trying to treat them on your own.

To avoid these issues, keep your pets away from your indoor plants.

Other allergens

Pollens or indoor plants are not always the reasons behind your allergies. One element that often goes overlooked is mold.

Mold grows in the soil that is overwatered and remains soggy for too long. Lack of air circulation also leads to mold formation in the soil.

Mold multiplies and spreads fast, along with triggering allergic reactions.

What houseplants are bad for allergies?

Some indoor plants aggravate allergies. The pollens of the flowering plants, the sap of some plants, and even plants with fuzzy leaves can cause allergic reactions.

If you are likely to have allergies, you must avoid bringing these plants home.

  • Marigold
  • Peace lily
  • Dumb cane
  • Daisies
  • African violets
  • Orchids
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Weeping figs
  • Stephanotis
  • Male palms
  • Spider plants

What are the best indoor plants for allergies?

If you are prone to allergies, avoid houseplants that can trigger allergic reactions. Bring plants that not only help to avoid allergies but also purify the air.

NASA carried out research on houseplants in 1980 and figured that some houseplants could absorb toxins from the air and purify it. Spaces with plants that purify air had 60% fewer microbes, bacteria, and mold spores.

Plants like snake plants can remove toxins like benzene and formaldehyde from the air that enter your house from detergents or paints.

Here is a list of plants that will be the right choice if you are prone to allergies.

  • Golden pothos
  • Snake plant
  • Philodendron
  • Dracaena
  • Bamboo Palm
  • Lady Palm

Symptoms of indoor plant allergies

plant allergy 2

If you are vulnerable to allergies and have indoor plants in the house, or if you start sneezing when you go near your indoor plants, a particular houseplant might not be suitable for you.

Here are the symptoms that you may notice in yourself or someone experiencing indoor plant allergies.

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Congestion
  • Itchy or watery eyes
  • Puffiness under the eyes
  • Tiredness
  • Asthma

You can come across some other symptoms if you touch the sap, the liquid coming out of the stem, or the plant’s leaves.

  • Itching
  • Skin lesions
  • Dermatitis
  • Eczema
  • Swelling

If you or your pets, your children, or you happen to ingest any part of your indoor plants, you may observe these internal symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

How to prevent indoor plant allergies?

You can follow these steps to avoid allergies caused due to indoor plants.

  • Avoid bringing flowering plants.
  • If you still want flowering plants, bring in the ones with less pollen and short stamens. Pollens are the allergens, and you should try to bring plants with less pollen to minimize the chances of allergies.
  • Bring plants with smooth leaves as fuzzy leaves can trigger allergic reactions. This is because fuzzy leaves trap the pollens or allergens in them.
  • Do not bring many plants at once, making it difficult to determine which one is causing allergies. Bring one plant and observe it for a few days before you bring another one.
  • Mist your plant or clean the leaves regularly to get rid of dust, pollen, or allergens that might cause the allergies.
  • Do not keep the soil soggy, as that will lead to mold growth and allergic reactions.
  • If the plants are kept on the balcony, keep the doors or windows closed so that pollens cannot enter your living space.
  • Wear masks and use gloves when you are touching the plants. This will protect you from allergens and also save your skin from the toxic sap of the plants.
  • Keep your plants away from your children and pets as they might be more prone to allergies.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner to clean the areas that might have the chance of holding the allergens.
  • Keep the plants in a well-ventilated area so that it gets enough air and space.
  • Avoid overwatering that can lead to mold growth in the soil.
  • Be careful if you are misting regularly as you don’t want the water to sit on the leaves or remain on the soil for too long. If the water doesn’t evaporate fast, you can wipe it using a cloth.
  • If you notice mold on the soil, clean it as soon as possible.

How to get rid of mold on the soil?

Mold can cause allergies, and if you have mold on your plant soil, you need to get rid of that mold. Using the following steps can help you remove mold:

Dry the potting mix under direct sunlight – Direct sunlight can harm the plant, so take it out of the pot and spread the soil on paper under a sunny spot. Mold grows in damp soil, and sun exposure will help remove the mold. You can also spray a baking soda solution on the soil.

Remove mold and spray fungicide – Scrape the top layer of the soil out of the pot and discard it. You can remove the mold from the plant with a damp cloth and then spray fungicide to prevent further mold growth.

Repot the plant – The ultimate way of getting rid of mold is to repot the plant with a fresh soil mix. Discard the old soil and clean the roots and stem of the plant. Spray a fungicide. Take a new pot and fresh soil mix and plant your houseplant inside it.

Final words

While some houseplants are good for allergies, some are the causes of it. If you are vulnerable to allergies, figuring out the right plants that prevent allergies and purifying the air would be your best choice.

Not everyone is allergic to pollens or houseplants, so if you have a plant that you are allergic to, you can pass it on to someone who is not allergic to it and would love to have it in their homes.

If you have plants that cause allergies, taking measures like keeping them on the balcony and closing the doors and windows, misting and cleaning their leaves regularly, vacuum cleaning the areas that tend to collect the allergens, and not overwatering can minimize the allergies or stop them altogether.

Ref: Socialist Health Association, Dr. Brian Lum, Swiss Allergy Centre

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