As a relatively new blogger, I read somewhere that I am supposed to post about what I know. So, this post is not beauty related, but is something I deal with on a daily basis. I have both seasonal and year round nasal allergies and skin allergies too. I am only going to focus this post on an allergy that approximately 20 million people in America suffer from, dust. I’ve been allergic to dust since I was a teenager.
Allergies to dust, rather, dust mites as you’re actually allergic to the feces of the microscopic pest. GROSS! Right? Good thing the mites and their feces are so small you can’t see them!
I’m not going to delve into the symptoms of those who have a dust mite allergy and focus on lifestyle changes that I have used or read about that can alleviate your symptoms. If you’re interested, the American College of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology has some handy information on symptoms.
The most important lifestyle change you can make to reduce dust mite allergy symptoms is to reduce the amount of habitat for dust mites to thrive. So where exactly do dust mites thrive? They enjoy moisture, the dark and feast on your dead skin cells! Where do you think these three things occur? Your bedroom! Most people spend around a third of their life horizontal on a mattress, sleeping! Your bedding, mattress and bedroom are the perfect habitat for dust mites to thrive. But have no fear, there are ways to reduce your exposure to them by eliminating their habitat!
You can easily eliminate dust mite habitat with a few modifications to the decor and the purchase of high quality mattress & pillow encasements.
Here’s the TLDR version of Lifestyle Changes that Can Reduce Dust Mite Allergy Symptoms
1. Purchase & use high quality pillow & mattress covers.
2. Do not use fans, they just blow dust around and increase symptoms.
3. Replace furnace filters monthly with high performance ratings (Filtrete 1000 & above, MERV 9+).
4. Eliminate as many soft surfaces from the bedroom as possible.
5. Keep damp out. Do not use humidifiers & do not go to sleep with wet hair.
6. Wash bedding, including comforter, weekly in HOT water.
7. Do not let pets sleep in the bed, they are also hosts to dust mites.
Now for the nitty gritty on the list above!
Pillow and Mattress Covers
These a must for someone with a dust mite allergy. If you do one thing from this list, purchase these and cover your mattress, box spring and all pillows! You can find them at most retailers and look for a brand that mentions they are dust mite proof. Unfortunately, many covers are a synthetic material, so they can feel similar to sleeping on plastic which as you can imagine is uncomfortably hot! I did find a store in my area that sells 100% cotton washable pillow covers that they claim are woven so tightly that dust mites cannot escape. I’ve had them for three or four years and wash them weekly (more details on washing below) with my bedding. Even though they are supposed to be dust mite proof, I’d rather err on the side of caution and ensure no mites are hiding in the porous cover.
I stopped using ceiling fans in high school and my typical morning sore throat improved greatly. My parents always used ceiling fans to in summer to reduce the temperature in the house so the AC would run less & keep the electric bill down. When I visit them now, I start sneezing after 30 minutes in a room, with wood floors while the ceiling fan is running! This also correlates to cleaning, when dust is being moved around you are likely to increase your symptoms. If possible, have someone else vacuum & dust while you are out of the house. If you have to do this yourself, wear a mask and use a vacuum with a HEPA filter. As for ionic breezes or HEPA filters for your bedroom, I’ve seen some conflicting reports that these are/are not effective. If you already have one, great, keep using it, but I don’t think its something you need to go out and purchase.
Replace often with a high rating. The brand I most see in stores in my area is Filtrete which has a proprietary performance rating. For dust allergies, any Filtrete with a rating above 1000 is a good choice. 3M does sell filters with a rating up to 2200, but I personally do not think the added expense is justified by the increased particle removal as I have not noticed any improvements in symptoms using a 1500 vs. 1000. Further, American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), has developed the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value for air filters. The Filtrete 1000 and 1500 both have a MERV of 11!
Remove Plush Items & Surfaces
Remove curtains, plush recliner chairs, fabric headboards, bed skirts, stuffed animals and other fabric or plush items that cannot be washed on a weekly basis. If your child has a dust mite allergy, and just has to have a favorite stuffed animal. Rather than washing it weekly, you can kill dust mites by placing it in the freezer for 24 hours. However, this won’t prevent the mites allergen that is already in the stuffed animal from aggravating their allergies, so if this is the first time you are trying to kill the dust mites, I’d recommend washing it first and using the freezing method only after initial removal of the mites. If possible, replace carpet with a hard floor surface. I know, this sounds very expensive, and it not completely necessary, but will help with symptoms. I still have carpet in my bedroom.
Keep damp out
If you go to bed with wet hair, STOP! This should be pretty easy to change. I switched to showering in the morning or a could hours before bed so I’d have time to either blow dry or air dry my hair. Other things to eliminate in the bedroom are humidifiers. Dust mites love moisture, so by keeping it low you’ll reduce the population.
Wash Bedding Weekly
This is something I have been doing since college. Everything in the picture is washed weekly! I will get a sore throat if I go more than a week without washing my sheets, pillow cases AND comforter. Yes, wash your comforter! If the one you currently have is down and you don’t want to replace it, they do sell allergy duvet covers so you could buy one of those to use. By washing your bedding weekly, you both kill the mites and also remove your dead skin cells that they feast on! Remember to set your washer to hot as a temperature of 104 degrees F will only kill 7% of mites while 140 degrees will kill 100%(source)! I have a high efficiency washer with a steam setting so I use the sanitize temperature with steam.
Treat your bed like a surgical operating room.
No pets in the bed. They are hosts to dust and typically close to the floor/carpet. If possible, do not allow pets in your bedroom. I have a dog, while she’s never slept in my bed, I feel bad keeping her out of my carpeted bedroom, not the ideal situation, but better than letting her sleep in my bed. The other thing to remember: do not change into your PJs until you are going to bed. By wearing them and sitting on other surfaces (couch, etc.) you’ll be transferring mites to your bed.
I am not a doctor or medical professional, but have researched and gone through allergy testing, immunotherapy, and tried many OTC and prescription antihistamine/allergy medications on the market.
If you’d like to hear more about seasonal allergies, allergy testing or different allergy treatments please leave me comment below!