Allergies - NIH Research Shows a Pets Help Children to Avoid Developing Allergies
The following is a reprint of an National Institute of Health news release
that discusses recent findings that the presence of pets may help children
to resist developing allergies.
Multiple Pets May Decrease Children's Allergy Risk
What to do to prevent or remove pet and dust mite allergens?
- Remove carpeting and replace with wood, tile, linoleum, or vinyl floor covering. Remove cloth drapes and blinds. (If you have carpet, vacuum every day.) Vacuuming your carpets and upholstery every week can help.
See the caution about vacuuming below under tips. Vacuums with high-efficiency filters pick up more dust mites, but even standard vacuums work well enough.
- Reduce Temperature and humidity: Dust mites love warm, humid conditions, above 70 F (21 C) and 50% humidity
Temperature: Keep the thermostat in the house below 70 degrees.
Humidity: Effective control of mites would require the maintenance of relative humidity's below 50 percent. A study (Feb 2005) by Kingston University (London UK) shows that simply by leaving your bed unmade each morning, with the sheets to be exposed to the air, allows the sheets to dry out, and substantially reduces the numbers of dust mites.
Some researchers feel it is important to focus on decreasing indoor humidity, especially during the winter period to reduce dust mite populations. One might forsake humidifier use during winter periods (or limit it to the bedroom only at night, then ventilate the room during the day). It will help to use dehumidifiers during high-humidity periods, or use central air conditioning. So if you use a humidifier in the winter, adjust it to produce 35% to 45% humidity. Some humidifiers have this control built in; with others, you'll need a humidity gauge (usually sold with a thermometer at Costco, Sam's Club, Wal-Mart, Target, etc.). And generally, homes that have their air conditioners on constantly in the summer and dry heat in the winter have lower mite counts than non-air conditioned homes.
- Protect Bedding - The most effective means is to enclose
the mattress top and sides with a plastic cover or other
dust mite impervious cover (available here, click on allergy bedding on the left in the new page), thoroughly vacuuming mattress pillows and the base of the bed. Put an airtight plastic or polyurethane cover over your mattress.
This is the method recommended by Consumer Reports (see
their article here). This tip is number one for a reason: it is in your bed
(including the baby's crib) that you are closest to the mites and their feces and enclosing the mattress and pillows in a dust mite cover virtually eliminates the mites here.
There is a website,
The Allergy Store, that we recommend that sells allergy controls, like the dustmite-proof fitted sheets. Mattresses covered with "fitted sheets" help prevent the accumulation of human skin scales on the surface.
These sheets have the advantage of being waterproof, too, which
helps protect your mattress from spills, babies and toddler's
this page for much more information about dust mites and how to control them.
This page was updated on 30-Mar-2016