Do you wake up in the morning and feel like you never went to sleep? Got a stopped up nose and puffy eyes? That’s what you get for sleeping with dust mites and sleeping with dust mites is just a bad idea.
Whether they are dead or alive, sleeping with dust mites is a bad idea. The dead ones can make you just as sick as the living ones. It’s the feces and body parts from the dust mites that are the allergens.
Just killing the mites won’t remove the allergen although reducing populations is always a good thing.
Reduce your dust mite populations and associated allergens by making some changes to your bedroom and your cleaning routine. Even if you can’t do everything, just do a few of these things to reduce the number of dust mites in the bedroom.
11 Tips to Reduce Dust Mites
#1 Wash you bedding
Wash all bed linens once a week in hot water that is 140°F or hotter. Unfortunately most of the hot water in your home is 105°F to 107°F. Good news is that there are very effective products that make up for your lack of temperature.
#2 Cover your bedding
Cover your mattress, pillows and box springs with zippered allergy proof covers. Higher quality ones will last you for years so don’t waste money on cheap ones. The cheap ones won’t last but a year or two.
#3 Let the sun shine
Hang your comforters, bedspreads and blankets outside in the sunlight (especially if you have wool or silk). The sun will kill the mites. The downside to this tip is that bedding may pick up pollen, not good if you have seasonal allergies.
Toss comforters, bedspreads and blankets in the dryer for 15 minutes on the fluff setting every 2 to 3 weeks. It will knock out some dust without fading your colors.
#5 Deep Freeze
Freeze stuffed toys overnight and toss them in the dryer in the morning. Freezing kills the mites and tumbling in the dryer loosens the allergens.
#6 Keep it dry
Keep the humidity below 40%.
#7 Steam is your friend
Steam clean chairs, sofas, couches and carpets. Steam clean carpets and rugs on a regular basis. Make sure that the company or equipment you use has a good extraction system. Trading mold for dust mites is a bad thing.
#8 Get hard
Get rid of carpeting if you can. Hard surfaces like tile and wood don’t hold allergens and are easier to clean.
Clean early in the day. All the dust you stir up will have a change to settle before bedtime. Don’t forget to clean the ceiling fan.
#11 Get rid of it
Last but not least – get rid of the excess clutter and dust catchers in the bedroom. Do you really need 12 pillows on the bed? We have not had curtains in our bedroom for 20 years. I still remember the day we took them down. What a dust cloud that caused!
When I was a kid, the old black and white movies with scary monsters like vampires and mummies were some of my favorites. As I got older, I loved movies (like Young Frankenstein and The Rocky Horror Picture Show) that allowed me to laugh at my fears.
Currently zombies fill the screens of horror flicks. Zombies are scary, but what really frightens me are the thought of real blood-sucking creatures crawling into bed with me at night. I’m afraid of bed bugs and I have never been bitten by one. Yet.
Bed Bug PTSD
I went looking to see if the fear of bed bugs had been given a specific “phobia” name. I didn’t find a phobia for bed bugs in particular. The fear of beds is Clinophobia and the fear of bugs is Entomophobia, but there isn’t a Clino-Entomo-phobia as of yet. Give it time.
I did find that people who have actually had a bout with bed bugs may suffer from an anxiety similar to mine known as “Bed Bug PTSD”. I am not making this up. The Atlantic published an article about bed bug anxiety . Well, OK, they called it “madness” but even I think that is extreme.
Turns out that once you survive an infestation of bed bugs, the expensive and time consuming eradication process can leave you emotionally scarred. I believe it. I’ve never had bed bugs, but I have helped so many people going through the bed bug extermination process that I live in fear of bed bugs.
Bed Bugs are Evil Blood Suckers
EHSO has some pretty good information about bed bugs. In a nutshell, these bugs are small, but are large enough to be seen with the naked eye (unlike microscopic dust mites). They feed on blood. Human blood in general and your blood in particular is their favorite meal. They use two tubes, one to inject an anticoagulant and another to extract your blood. They feed every 5 to 7 days and they are attracted by the carbon dioxide you exhale. I guess you could just never exhale. Let me know how that works for you. The anticoagulant they inject causes a bump and an itching sensation.
The little buggers will hide anywhere, but close to you and your bed is one of their favorite locations. For many years they were considered to be pests of the unclean. But as we travel more and the world gets smaller, bed bugs can be found in the finest homes and hotels and the most modest motel and slums as well. No place is immune.
Now Recognized as a Health Risk
For years bed bugs were considered a disgusting nuisance but not a carrier of disease. People were found to be allergic to the bites, but that didn’t pose any more health risk than allergy to mosquito bites or other insects. However, recent research has shown that bed bugs can be a carrier of Chagas Disease. So fear of bed bugs isn’t completely irrational.
Calm Your Bed Bug Fears
Having confessed to my bed bug fears, here are some things I do to prevent a bed bug infestation from ever happening to me. It has been successful so far, but I am sure as soon as this gets published I will get bed bugs. Like punishment for bragging. So here is my routine:
Bed Bug Covers. My mattress and pillows are all protected in zippered bed bug proof covers. I am highly allergic to dust mites, so I need zippered covers for dust mite protection. I use the AllergyCare Solution bed bug proof and dust mite proof fabric so I literally kill two bird (or is it bugs) with one stone.
Bed Bug Avoidance. Since I don’t have bed bugs in my house, I don’t want to bring them into my house. So, when I travel my suitcase stays in the bathtub at a hotel. I never put luggage on the floor.
When I come home, my suitcase stays in the garage until it can be thoroughly inspected and the clothing goes from the garage into the washing machine before it ever comes in the house. See, I have been afraid of bed bugs for years.
Bed Bugs are Scary
So yes, bed bugs are scary. They don’t fly like vampire bats; but I haven’t read a case of someone picking up a suitcase full of vampire bats by staying in a hotel. I read about bed bugs in stores, but I don’t read about vampire bats in stores. You get the idea.
In reality, bed bugs are to be feared more than vampires. In fiction, bed bug zombies would be the worst!
Eczema is uncomfortable and unsightly. But is eczema seasonal? It can be. Read on to discover how your eczema triggers and eczema symptoms can change with the seasons and why some people have seasonal eczema while others get flares all year long.
Seasonal Eczema Triggers
Eczema is as personal as your DNA. That means your triggers may not be the same as your aunt’s triggers. Even though you share DNA and eczema something as simple as living at a different latitude can impact your eczema symptoms. Identifying your triggers can be a challenge because sometimes the symptoms can come on hours after exposure. This makes seasonal eczema even a greater challenge to control.
If you have had formal allergy testing, anything that resulted in a reaction can be a trigger. In addition, your eczema can be triggered by:
Personal care products
Let’s see how triggers can change with the seasons.
Does your stress levels change with the seasons? If so, then yes, your eczema can be seasonal if it is triggered by stress. Does the first day of school fill you with dread? Are you afraid that the others will notice your skin? If so, this stress can actually trigger the eczema starting a vicious cycle. Are you a Mom or Dad that stresses with the back to school routine of morning rush, lunches, and after-school activities and homework? Your eczema may return each Fall, just as the kids return to school.
If the winter holidays leave you stressed, your eczema can be affected. Not only is the humidity low (we’ll cover that in a minute) but if stress of shopping, parties, decorating, and family activities too high, your eczema can be triggered.
Relative humidity is the relationship between the dew point and the amount of moisture in the air. When the humidity is low, your skin is stressed. Eczema can flare or an existing flare can worsen.
But, if low humidity is bad, is high humidity good? Not necessarily. When humidity is high, it’s hard for perspiration to evaporate. And anyone with eczema knows that sweating can make you itch and make eczema unbearable. Ironically, it is the sodium in the sweat that drys and irritates your skin. Sweat is one of the times that moisture is bad for eczema – the other is hot water.
So, if your eczema seems to change with the seasons, it may be changing in response to humidity levels.
Some fabrics can trigger eczema or make it worse. The lanolin in wool is a common allergen. Wearing wool can cause an allergic reaction that triggers your eczema. In addition, polyester or other fabrics that don’t breathe can cause you to get hot and trap sweat.
Most people don’t wear wool in summer, so if your eczema is triggered by wool you may only notice it in the winter. While the wool is a year-around trigger, you only experience it in the colder months when you and the people around you are wearing wool.
Personal Care Products
Many of the ingredients in personal care products trigger eczema. If you only use sunscreen in the summer, it may be the sunscreen and not the sun that’s triggering your eczema.
Deep conditioning treatments for hair in the winter can contain parabens or formaldehyde that trigger eczema. Even your choice of skin care products is important when you have eczema. If you find a cream such as Vanicream Ointment, Lotion, or Cream that works, then stick with it year around. If you change your personal care products with the seasons, you might find you trigger your eczema.
It might not be the wool that’s triggering your eczema, it could be what you’re using to wash the wool. Or, if you wear clothing that has been dry cleaned in the Fall and Winter more than the Spring and Summer, you may find your eczema appears seasonal. That’s because the dry cleaning chemicals trigger your eczema.
Combating Seasonal Eczema Symptoms
Whether your eczema symptoms are seasonal or not, there are a few things you can do to prevent eczema flares and reduce symptoms once you have a flare.
Topical therapy. Emollients and corticosteroid creams protect the skin and maintain its moisture barrier. Avoid products with parabens, formaldehyde, or formaldehyde releasers. Read the labels of all your personal care products. This includes shampoos and conditioners.
Maintain constant body temperature. Don’t get too hot or too cold. Sweating makes symptoms worse, so towel off frequently when you exercise. Exposure to cold air is drying to the skin. Wear loose, comfortable clothing and avoid fabrics that irritate. Seamless therapeutic silk underclothes puts a protective barrier between you and the fabrics you wear and keeps body temperature constant.
Know how to bathe. Never use hot water on your skin. Bathe or shower with warm or tepid water. It’d not necessary to bathe the entire body every day, especially in winter. Washing face, armpits, and groin/genital areas between showers or baths is better for you skin. Never rub skin dry with a towel. Gently pat dry. Apply topical therapy (moisturizers or creams) while skin is still slightly damp for best results.
Avoid triggers. If you don’t know your seasonal eczema triggers, its time for a visit to the allergist or immunologist. Testing can identify foods and environmental substances that trigger your eczema. Once you know what triggers the symptoms, you will know what to avoid. For example, if ragweed pollen triggers your eczema, you know to monitor pollen counts and stay inside on days when pollen is high.