When you realized that your little ones are sleeping with millions of creepy-looking pests, you’ll be freaked out.
No, it wasn’t for the fact that you’re able to witness their hideous appearance, but the likelihood of your child’s health taking a beating from the allergens.
Bouts of sneezing, red itchy eyes, runny nose and if it got pretty bad, you’ll find your child’s nasal pathway swelling up.
That’s how nasty dust mites can be to our children.
What’s The Cause Of Dust Mite Allergies
Dust mites are tiny creatures that escaped bare human eyes. A single mite is about 0.01”. These mites belong to the arachnid family which makes them cousins to spiders.
The appearance of a dust mite is intimidating. A mite has a translucent-like exoskeleton, eight legs, and looks like a creature from a sci-fi horror movie.
While dust mites are scary-looking pests, they don’t bite and cause any troubles on their own. Instead, it was a type of protein found in dust mites excretion and carcasses that are causing dust mites allergies.
When your child breathes in the allergen, his or her body starts to react to these foreign intruders. Often, it started as something mild, like sneezing or itchy eyes.
It’s a mistake to brush off the early signs of dust mite allergies as I did. These symptoms don’t just ‘go away’. Instead, it takes only two weeks before my child developed a full-blown nasal inflammation.
Why Your Child’s Bedroom May Be Infested With Dust Mites?
It doesn’t take much for an army of dust mites to breed in your home. Dust mites generally thrive in a humid and cool environment. The mites feed on the millions of skin flakes that we’re shedding every day.
Considering that the hours your child spends sleeping on the bed, it wouldn’t be surprising that the mattress is infested with dust mites. There could be millions of dust mites growing in the mattress, particularly if it uses non-hypoallergenic material like foam rubber.
Another suspect for dust mites haunts is the pillow that your child is sleeping on. Even if it has lesser mite counts, the proximity with your child increases the likelihood of inhaling the allergen in it. It also explains why the symptoms got worse during bedtime.
Other areas that may unknowingly become home to dust mites are carpets and stuffed toys. If your child is sleeping with a cuddly teddy bear, you’ll want to ensure that it’s not filled with dust mites.
The problem of dust mites is that the room can be spotlessly clean and yet dust mites are growing rampantly.
5 Ways To Prevent Dust Mites From Breeding In Your Child’s Bedroom
It’s unbearably hard watching your child suffer from allergies. Medicines and treatment are only temporary solutions. If you don’t get reduce the mites in your home, particularly the bedroom, the symptoms will return quickly.
These are what I’ve done to reduce mites in my child’s bedroom.
1. Install an air purifier
Dust mites can’t fly, but the mites and allergen can easily be send floating in the air when you’re making the bed or your child is playing on it. Installing an air purifier that’s fitted with a HEPA filter, helps to remove mites that are airborne.
HEPA filters are designed to trap 99.97% of microparticles as small as 0.3 microns. The fecal pellets of dust mites average between 10 to 40 micron, which is about a hundred times larger than the gap of the HEPA filter.
When you’re choosing an air purifier, get one with a capacity that matches the size of your room.
To have the best effect, you’ll want to place the air purifier near the bed.
2. Replace old mattress with a hypoallergenic one
There are various types of hypoallergenic bedding available. However, it’s better to replace your mattress if it’s been more than a couple of years. Chances are, your child’s mattress is heavily infested with dust mites.
According to a comparative study in 1981, foam rubber, kapok, and innerspring mattresses are susceptible to dust mites’ growth. The study also highlights that sheepskins used in toddler bedding are also likely to be infested with dust mites.
Getting hypoallergenic mattress cover and pillowcase is a good idea, but knowing that your child is sleeping with possibly millions of mites is disconcerting.
3. Clean bedding and the room regularly
It’s a mistake to assume that once you’ve replaced the bedding with hypoallergenic ones, your child will be free from dust mites forever. Well, there’s a brief period of respite before the mites start breeding again.
Even if mites are kept from creeping into the mattress, they can still gather and grow on the surface. Therefore, you’ll need to maintain a rigorous cleaning routine for your child’s bedroom.
Wash the bedding with hot water at least once a week to kill the mites. Washing with cold water has no effect on dust mites.
Vacuum the floor, upholsteries, and areas that could gather dust to cut off the food source to dust mites. Use a HEPA vacuum cleaner to prevent the mites from escaping back into the air.
4. Ensure the bedroom is properly ventilated
Often, an overly-humid room is a tell-tale sign for dust mites growth. If your child’s bedroom is poorly-ventilated and connected to a bathroom, you’ll want to look into removing the moisture content in the air.
You can try opening the windows and doors to allow natural air to circulate. If that’s not possible, you’ll need to install an exhaust fan or a dehumidifier. As long as you keep the humidity around 50% RH, which is the ideal range for humans, dust mites will have a tough time surviving.
5. Remove soft toys, rugs, and carpet.
Your child may hate you for this but if that cute little teddy has to go, then it has to go. Or you can consider freezing the soft toys to kill any mites living in it. Pack the toys in a sealed ouch and leave it in the freezer for a day and the mites would have died.
However, the allergen or protein that trigger the allergy will not be destroyed even with low temperature.
It seems that removing soft toys, along with rugs and carpet from your child’s bedroom is the best solution after all.
It’s impossible to keep your child’s bedroom to be free from a single living dust mite. The idea is to keep the numbers low to reduce or prevent allergies from striking again.
And it’s going to be a long battle.