Your Childís Hidden Threat Ė Dust Mites and Stuffed Animals

Dust mites are tiny, microscopic organisms that live in our bedding and in the other warm, dark places in our homes. Although these little buggers donít bite, they can cause allergy problems in young children and in some adults.

Carpeting and upholstered furniture are also home to these mites, who prefer to hang out in areas where sloughed-off human skin cells come to rest. They also prefer warm, moist air, so if you use a humidifier in your home, the dust mites can begin to multiply rapidly. Interestingly enough, though, the dust mite itself is not the cause of most peopleís allergies Ė the droppings from these pests actually cause irritation. Children are most susceptible to these allergens, but fortunately, there are several ways to prevent over-exposure.

First, donít let your child sleep on the sofa or carpeting. Dust mites are very plentiful in these places Ė vacuuming wonít remove all of them. Dust mites will burrow down into the carpet padding and a sofa is too thick for the vacuum to pull the dust mites out.

Next, if your child is experiencing increased allergy or asthma problems while at home, try covering his or her bed with an allergen cover. This has been proven to reduce the effect of dust mite allergens on children by as much as eighty percent. Wash your childís bedding hot water regularly, as hot water is the only way to kill the dust mites when washing bedding or clothing.

In addition, one of the most overlooked areas of dust mite infestation is in stuffed animals. Often, these stuffed animals have been around for many years, while the droppings from the mites have continued to build up inside the toy. Running the stuffed animals through a very hot dryer cycle will kill most of the dust mites, although itís best if you can also wash the stuffed animals in hot water before placing them in the dryer. Stuffed animals should be washed about once a month to keep dust mite problems at bay.

Even after the stuffed animals have been washed, donít let your child sleep with them. Not only does this pose a suffocation risk to very small babies, it can also add problems if your baby has respiratory problems. Washing stuffed animals removes most of the mites, but not all, so keep the stuffed animals away from your childís face at night. If your child feels that he or she must have the toy to sleep, remove it as soon as your child has drifted off sleep.

If your child continues to have problems with dust mite allergens, get rid of any stuffed animals that are made of wool or stuffed with down materials, as dust mites seem to be found in these types of materials most often.

If this isnít enough to alleviate your childís allergies, you can also consider removing the carpeting from his or her room. This can greatly reduce the number of allergens in the bedroom. Over time, carpeting can harbor dust mites, their droppings, and other allergens. By replacing carpeting with a hard floor surface, you can reduce the amount of dust mites in a room by almost sixty percent, which can really make a difference for children with asthma or bronchial allergies.