There’s an estimated 21 million asthma and allergy sufferers* in the UK and the dreaded house dust mite is at the root of most asthma and hayfever suffering. Symptoms can include sneezing, watery eyes, a runny or itchy nose and also itchy skin.
And where you can you find these dust mites? Well their utmost favourite location is your bed.
Given that average person sheds a pound of skin (454 grams) a year – much of it into our beds – and that the average adult loses around half a pint (285 ml) of moisture while sleeping each night, it’s easy to understand why the bed is a favourite haunt of the dust mite. All that moisture, warmth and food make mattresses, especially old ones, a great breeding ground.
Supporting Allergy UK’s Allergy Awareness Week, we thought we’d take this chance to remind you why it’s important to regularly replace your mattress – ideally around every seven years.
And why’s that? Independent research carried out for us showed that beds as little as six years old could offer significantly less support and comfort than a new one, thanks to wear and tear not just from body weight and movement but also sweat and debris such as skin, scales, hair etc – not a nice thought is it?! Click here for more information.
For mattresses that are still reasonably new and performing well, airing the bed each morning and regularly cleaning mattresses, pillows and blankets will help to eliminate the conditions under which house dust mites thrive.
It is also vitally important to ensure the bedroom is well ventilated: in an age of central heating and double glazing, they rarely are, but a good cool breeze through the room at night will help combat the problem as well as aid more restful sleep.
For those worried that open windows will allow in airborne pollen, it’s worth bearing in mind that the allergy created by the house dust mite is far worse than any allergy created by pollen. Asthma kills people, hayfever doesn’t, so ventilation is very important.
Here are some other top tips
• Keep temperatures down and flowers OUT of bedrooms (they increase humidity levels).
• Leave bedclothes turned back during the day (this reduces humidity levels in the bed, inhibiting mite survival).
• Avoid drying clothes on radiators in the bedroom (again this stops humidity levels becoming too high).
• Give your mattress a good spring clean: take it outside for a good airing and then replace it upside-down and opposite-ways-round to its previous positioning. Clean the base with a soft brush to remove fluff and dust – if you have to use a vacuum cleaner do so very carefully and with the window wide open.
• While the bed is moved out from any walls, vacuum thoroughly under and around the bed – it can yield huge amounts of dust and fluff.
• Wash bedclothes and pillows regularly at a high temperature (this kills mites and removes mite faeces; all pillows should be washable these days).
• If hot washing is not possible, 24 hours in the freezer will kill any mites in a pillow prior to cold washing.
• If someone has a very severe reaction to pollen they should consider a mechanical ventilator – fans which bring in fresh air through pollen filters. They are not prohibitively expensive and can make a huge difference to sufferers.
• Fit roller blinds that can be easily wiped clean.
• Clean cushions, soft toys, curtains and upholstered furniture regularly.
• Use a vacuum cleaner fitted with a HEPA filter.
• Wipe surfaces with a damp, clean cloth, as dry dusting can spread the allergens further.
• Use bedding that protects against dust mites.
*Source: Allergy UK