Posted by: Realist | November 30, 2008

Allergic to Horses

It’s tough being a horse owner when you’re allergic to horses. I’m allergic to them. Actually, according to my allergy tests, I’m allergic to grass and mold, but for some reason dust on horses really triggers my allergies. Probably because they’re rolling in hay, eating hay, etc. Who knows, all I know is that after I work with the horses, for 3 days afterwards I’m miserable and taking Clariton, Zyrtec, and using up boxes of Puffs Plus.

I started wearing an N95 dust mask when I work with the horses, and it’s fantastic! I no longer have my allergies heavily triggered. I don’t wear the mask when riding, and it seems to be OK. It’s only grooming, tacking up, trimming, and other dust-creating activities that seem to give me problems. I also wear the mask when I have to go deal with the hay, like rolling out a new round bale, etc.

The 3M masks that I use are only about $1-$2 each, so I have them everywhere and within reach. I order them online by the dozen. I’m always careful to get N95 (or even N100) rated masks, and not just generic dust masks. Great stuff!

For a while I was using prescription nasal steroids (Nasacort) to control my allergies, since I was congested whether or not I was around horses. It worked great, but I don’t like using medicine. After I switched my diet to no-gluten and low-card, my allergies seemed to abate (if I didn’t get around horses). So I was able to stop the medicine. The only problem was horses, which was only on weekends, and sometimes every other weekend. Dust mask: problem solved.

In response to the comment on which brand/model I prefer, I use 3M 9211 masks.  Why?  Well, I read a review on a bird flu forum that said they were the most comfortable model, then I bought a couple boxes which I’m still working through.  Are they my favorite?  Not really.  They’re pretty flimsy so they take 2 hands to put on, and you have to pull the bottom part under your chin.  I’ve tried other 3M masks that are firm and in the shape of a half sphere, and they’re easier to put on and off.  I do like the “flap” on the 9211, which opens as you exhale, but other models also have the flap.  At $1-$2 each, N95 masks are cheap enough to try different models.  The only problem is if you order them online, you typically need to order them by the dozen.  To be honest, there isn’t enough of a difference between the ones I like and the ones I dislike for me to have a strong opinion.  I won’t buy the ones that are $5-$15/each, as I’ve tried them, and they’re no better than the cheap ones.  I also won’t buy regular dust masks that are not N95 rated, as the N95 ones are the same price.  I’ve tried N100, and I haven’t noticed any difference to my allergies.  I’ve also tried masks made for oil, and though they seemed a tad thicker, they also didn’t seem to make a difference.  As for the brand, I use 3M simply because it’s a recognized brand.  I guess advertising really does make a difference.



  1. How did you decide on N95 and 3M? I’ve done a bunch of reseach and there seems to be a ton of differnet styles and brands?

    I was thinking about trying these? Is this what you’re using? Seems to be a reasonable price.

  2. Along with your nose response to the horses, did you ever get swollen eye lids and tear ducts? 5 days ago a horse swished its head and all the dust went into my face, I immediately went into my usually sneezing and itchy eyes, then my eyelids and tear ducts became inflammed. It seemed to settle over the weekend but this morning I’ve woken up with my top eyelid red swollen and I can feel something (not painful – just irritating) when I blink. I realise you aren’t a doctor. I just thought I’d ask. Those masks are great by the way, the best ones I’ve used.

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