While a kid's bedroom is supposed to be a place to play and dream, it can also be a breeding ground for mold, dust mites, pet dander and other allergens that can leave kids sniffling and sneezing. Unsurprisingly, allergic conditions are the most common medical ailment affecting kids in the United States — and many allergists point to bedrooms as a possible cause.
Here are five ways to cut down on the allergy triggers in your child's bedroom and curb the sneezing and sniffling for good.
Dust mites are everywhere, but they particularly love bedrooms — and specifically bedsheets. According to a 2011 study, human beings shed 500 million skin cells per day. These skin cells can accumulate on sheets and pillowcases, attracting dust mites, who feed on them. To stave off dust mites, wash your sheets, pillowcases and blankets at least once a week in hot water (130 degrees Fahrenheit).
Though dust mites are usually the culprit of allergies in beds, some people also report sniffling and sneezing because of materials such as latex or goose down in the mattress or mattress toppers themselves. Check the materials in your mattress, covers and blankets, and consider investing in an organic, hypoallergenic mattress or box spring instead. If that's not possible, you can also encase your mattress and box spring with a vinyl cover to ward off dust mites.
If your kid has spilled something in their room (and what kid hasn't?), it's likely the carpet has become a breeding ground for mold, which can be a severe chronic allergy trigger in kids. Consider installing carpet with a low pile — or better yet, switch out carpets for linoleum or hardwood, so you can more easily see (and clean) the dust that accumulates.
Unfortunately, dust mites and mold aren't the only allergens invading your kids' space. Pollen, tobacco smoke and pet dander have also been known to cause chronic allergies. One line of defense against all of these is a HEPA filter, which forces air through a high-efficiency particulate filter that traps allergens and cleans the surrounding air. Consider buying a standalone air filter or vacuuming weekly with a HEPA-filtered vacuum.
Pets like dogs and cats produce dander, which are dead skin cells that can provoke an allergic reaction in some humans. But even if you don't have a pet, rodents and cockroaches have been known to trigger allergies as well. (Rodents spread dander much like dogs and cats, while cockroaches are allergens themselves.) Be sure to keep household pets out of bedrooms and off beds, and use baits and traps to catch cockroaches if you have them. Cockroach sprays, on the other hand, can possibly make allergies worse.
While it's impossible to remove every allergy from any room, these five things are major steps and will help your child breathe — and sleep — better in their bedroom.
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