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Dust mites: Everything You (Didn’t) Want to Know

It only took a little bit of research to learn more than I ever wanted to know about dust mites… sometimes ignorance really is bliss. As much as I would like to pretend that dust mites don’t exist, their presence can really impact the health and happiness of our homes if we are prone to allergies. My daughter has suffered from allergies since she was a tiny little tot, so I felt it necessary to dig a little deeper.

Right now, your bed is crawling with microscopic dust mites, feeding off the flakes of dead skin you shed while getting your beauty sleep. The average adult sheds about 1.5 grams of skin a day which feeds about 1 million dust mites easily. And no, exfoliating your skin won’t exactly help starve them – shedding is completely natural. We all do it.

Dust mites: Everything You (Didn’t) Want to Know

 

Image credits: Gilles San Martin via flickr

Humans have three layers of skin: the epidermis, the dermis, and the hypodermis. The epidermis is the thin outer layer that produces new skin cells after the old ones have died. The dermis is the middle layer that contains your pain and touch receptors, as well as the blood vessels and hair follicles. The innermost layer is a subcutaneous fat layer that is made of collagen and fat to absorb shock and protect the body and internal organs. This skin can be considered our shield against the environment and is constantly evolving to provide the utmost protection to our vital organs. According to National Geographic, we shed around 40,000 cells per minute to achieve this. Like the snake, our skin completely renews itself every 35 days and we don’t even notice! (WebMD) Therefore, biologically there is nothing we can do to stop feeding the skin cells these dust mites feed on.

Having dust mites doesn’t mean that your house is filthy.

You will find dust mites in every home, no matter how immaculate it is kept. Although gross, the good news is dust mites do not bite, carry diseases, or draw blood like some of their relatives. And since we can’t see them, most of the time we are blissfully unaware of their presence.

So other than being a nightmare inducing thought, why are dust mites potentially a problem?

You are not going to like the answer.

The real threat is what dust mites leave behind… their faeces – and there is a lot of it. A single dust mite can leave over 20 droppings a day. Those droppings are full of allergens that can cause havoc with the human immune system. Dust mite faeces contain a substance called DerP1, a very potent allergen. People who are allergic to dust mites may have asthma-like symptoms, eczema or chronic sinus problems. Since dust mites extract their water from the air, they prefer warm and humid places close to their food source. This makes the places we sit, lie down, exhale, and perspire prime real estate for them. Mattresses, couches, and carpets are dust mite magnets.

Are you grossed out yet? I sure am!

Studies show that dust mites and the allergic reactions they provoke are a root cause of asthma in children and can cause lung cell death. Prolonged exposure to dust mite allergens can also lead to eczema, gut disease, conjunctivitis, hay fever, and ear problems.

Dust mites can be found on every continent but Antarctica, but before you make your way to the frozen land to get away from these little critters – here are a few things you can do to contain the mites and reduce your exposure to their irritating waste products.

  1. Start by investing in special mattress & pillow protector.

The Protect-A-Bed product range is endorsed by almost every allergy society worldwide and certified by the FDA as a medical device. Using dust mite covers is the most important step because studies have shown that dust mites live in the bedroom more than any other place in a house and the bed is their favourite place to live. A used mattress can have between 100,000 and 10 million mites inside. To be mite-proof, a mattress protector must be woven tightly enough to be waterproof, like the Protect-A-Bed® range of mattress, cot mattress, and pillow covers. Made using the waterproof Miracle Membrane® that forms an impenetrable barrier to dust mites, these covers still allow air transfer for a comfortable night’s sleep.

  1. Change and Wash Your Bedding Often

A hot wash and a hot dryer is the best defence. Wash pillows, sheets, blankets, comforters, and mattress pads often. Can’t wash it? Put it in the freezer for a night.

  1. Dust First, Dust Often

Dust before you vacuum so any loose dust will be captured by your vacuum’s filter. Always use a wet cloth rather than a dry dusting.

  1. Air Out Your Bed

While my husband hates it when I don’t make our bed right away, there are some researchers who say it is healthier to leave your bed unmade during the day (I often cling to the hope that I’ll be able to climb back in if the baby decides to take a nice long nap!)

  1. Use a Dehumidifier

Decrease your indoor humidity to below 50% when possible using a dehumidifier. When using a humidifier in the winter, keep it at 35-45% humidity. This will help dehydrate the mites and kill them off.

As I have mentioned, my daughter suffers from allergies – which also causes her asthma and eczema to flare up. We have taken various steps to help her with this – from using all-natural products when it comes to bath time and house cleaning, to excluding certain foods. I never even thought of the role dust mites could be playing. I spent most of my weekend clearing out her bedroom, giving everything a good wash and have started using the Premium Deluxe Mattress protector that was sent to us. I have already placed an order for all our other beds as well… can you blame me? It seems like a small price to pay to not swim around in dust mite poop at night.

The Premium Deluxe Mattress protector from Protect-A-Bed features a cotton terry towel surface for comfort and excellent absorbency. It has a soft surface, but I also place her regular cotton fitted sheet over it.

 

THE BENEFITS OF PREMIUM DELUXE MATTRESS PROTECTORS

  • 100% waterproof yet breathable
  • Effective in preventing bacteria and dust mites from breeding in your mattress (a major cause of asthma, eczema, and rhinitis)
  • Protects your mattresses from stains (accidental spills, perspiration, and bodily fluids)
  • Guaranteed to moderate your body temperature and enhance sleeping comfort
  • Ultra-thin with 4-way stretch, so it does not detract from the comfort of the mattress
  • Can be used on all visco-elastic, inner spring and latex mattresses
  • Fitted sheet style is easy to fit and remove when washing is required
  • Expandable skirt ensures mattress protector fits any depth of mattress (25-38cm up to 40cm) and fits extra length mattresses
  • Electric blanket safe
  • Wash durability rating: > 200 washes
  • This product is backed by a 5-year guarentee
  • Machine washable (HOT) and tumble dry (MEDIUM)
  • Can be sterilized at 121˚C (250˚F)
  • Tested for harmful substances according to Oeko-Tex Standard 100

See their website for available sizes.

Do you struggle with indoor allergies? Do you think dust mites could be the cause? Please share any remedies that have helped you and your family.

#sponsored by Protect-a-Bed

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