Moving Out and Shared Living Space

Information and advice for a parent or carer of a young adult living with allergy.

Parent of an 18 to 25 year old

Living completely independently with their allergies might leave our young people facing a few new challenges. They will be responsible for maintaining an indoor environment that is safe for their needs and in shared living spaces this can come with its own set of complications.

Some tips on how to help them create an allergy friendly home environment include:

Food allergy

If your young person lives with food allergy and plans to live in shared accommodation, share these tips to help them stay safe:

To prevent food allergen cross-contamination in the kitchen, suggest they:

  • Have a clearly identifiable set of cooking utensils for their exclusive use.
  • Label items, including food and storage equipment, maybe colour code Tupperware / food containers so that everyone knows which items are theirs.
  • Ask housemates not to use or share their safe items to reduce risk of cross-contamination and keep them stored in their own cupboard/storage space or in their room. This way, they can be sure that their equipment is clean and very unlikely to contain any trace of their food allergens.
    • Consider the following too: Keep a mini fridge in their room or,
    • Agree with housemates to have the top shelf of the freezer or fridge to prevent the risk of cross contamination from spills
    • Store food safely in the fridge using sealed plastic containers to prevent cross contamination from other food spills.
    • Purchase a box with a lock to place in the fridge.
  • Display an explanatory note or poster in the kitchen to serve as a gentle reminder to housemates and highlight the above points.

Ahead of moving out there are some steps you can take to also support them in managing their food allergies independently. Some tips on what to do are given below.

  • It would be ideal for your young person to learn to shop for and cook a few safe meals, so they don’t have to learn from scratch once they are living on their own. Meal planning not only helps save money and time, if they batch cook and freeze, these meals can be eaten when they’re short of time or tired.
  • Get them into the habit of checking food labels to make sure they’re free from allergens. Encourage them to remember to check the ingredient lists every time they buy products, even if they have been previously known as ‘safe’, as manufacturers may change ingredients without warning.
  • Make sure that they know to keep in mind that detergents and soaps, including washing up liquid, may contain food allergens including nuts, cow’s milk as well as fragrance and other irritants.
  • Hand soaps, creams, shampoos and cosmetics may contain potential food allergens, like peanut, tree nuts, cow’s milk or coconut, and may be referred to in the Latin name on packaging. Our peanut and tree nut Factsheets contain some of the Latin names for these ingredients to help navigate this risk.

More about food allergy…

Additional Resources

The Interactive Allergy House

The Interactive Allergy House

The house provides an interactive walk through experience for you to explore the home of an atopic family. Throughout your walk through, you can find useful tips on how to manage allergy hotspots in the home and you will also come across signposts to useful services and resources provided by Allergy UK.

Living with a Food Allergy

Living with a Food Allergy

Whether you're newly diagnosed or you've been managing food allergies for years, Allergy UK is here to support you. Find resources for your young adult and get connected to others in your community.

Food Labelling Guidance

Food Labelling Guidance

This Factsheet provides information on food allergens, precautionary allergen labelling (e.g. ‘may contain’ statements) and what to look for when reading a food label.

Respiratory and skin allergies

If your young person has a dust mite allergy, encourage them to:

  • Clean and hoover regularly, and keep clutter to a minimum.
  • Wash their pillow and bedding frequently at high temperatures and, if funds allow, purchase a mattress and pillow protector.
  • Curtains, carpets, sofas and beds are ideal environments for house dust mites. After vacuum cleaning, they should open the windows to help ventilate the room.
  • Additionally, if pollen counts are high and also a trigger for allergic conditions, closing windows at dusk may help.

Mould in rented/student accommodation can be an issue if they’re allergic to mould. If they notice mould in their accommodation, they need to speak to their landlord or student services.

To prevent mould forming, share these tips with your young person:

  • Drying clothes indoors can encourage mould growth, so where possible, dry clothes outside, if drying inside, leave to dry in well-ventilated areas such as the
  • Open windows regularly to keep rooms dry and well-ventilated, especially wet rooms such as the kitchen and bathroom.
  • Use an extractor fan when cooking.
  • Avoid putting clothes away in cupboards or drawers when damp.
  • Inside the washing machine and behind appliances are mould hot spots as well as food composting in the kitchen.
  • House plants are a cost effective, on trend and popular way for young people to bring a personal flair to their interiors. However, they can also be a hot spot for mould and dust and this can be problematic for those living with respiratory allergies. To help avoid mould, remove topsoil from indoor plants and wipe the leaves of plants periodically.

In addition, for hay fever sufferers, when pollen counts are high, remind them to take the following precautions:

  • Keep windows closed, especially early morning and late afternoon, to reduce exposure in doors.
  • Avoid drying clothes outside as pollen can stick to material and be brought indoors.

 Here are some more tips to share with your young person if they live with respiratory and skin allergies:

  • Cleaning products and air fresheners can cause allergic reactions and may cause problems with breathing in asthma and allergic rhinitis sufferers.
  • Steam cleaning may be a better option for people with allergies.
  • Burning highly perfumed or having scented products such as candles, air diffusers, incense sticks etc. may also trigger symptoms and may best avoided.
  • An air purifier can help reduce allergens and pollutants in the air.
  • Sensitive and eczematous skin can flare easily with changes in environment and stress. Moving home, brings stresses and a new environment, so make sure your young person is prepared and has a good supply of topical treatment and other essential medication to hand.

More about asthma and respiratory allergies…

More about eczema and skin allergies…

Additional Resources

Living with Eczema: Patient Resource Videos

Living with Eczema: Patient Resource Videos

The following videos have been developed by Allergy UK to help you understand more about atopic eczema, emollient therapies, steroid treatments and how they can help in controlling the symptoms of eczema in both adults and children.

Asthma in Adults

Asthma in Adults

Our information factsheet for asthma in adults includes infomation on asthma, how to spot symptoms, get a diagnosis and what medications and inhalers are available.

House Dust Mite Allergy

House Dust Mite Allergy

Now your child is fending for themselves, find out how best to manage your house dust mite allergy and what measures to take to minimise exposure.

Sanofi UK has provided a financial contribution to the production of this digital destination but has had no editorial input into the design, content or other outputs.

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