Interesting facts about house dust mite allergy

Much Ado About Nothing
Do house-dust-mite-allergy sufferers really have to do without the cosy comfort of cosy down and feather bedding provides? No, they don’t. Although the matter has been settled a long time ago, the debate on this issue continues to be fierce. Thus, many people are still labouring under the misapprehension that down- and feather-filled bedding articles are the preferred habitat of house dust mites.

Is There Any Truth in That Rumour?
Prof. Hans Jürgens, Head of the Institute for Industrial Anthropology at the Kiel University, investigated the matter thoroughly and carried out a study on this topic. The results confirm not only that house-dust-mite-allergy sufferers may sleep in down and feather beds, but that such bedding is even particularly recommendable.

The Proof of the Pudding is in the Eating
After laboratory tests showed that there is no relation between down- and feather-filled bedding articles and the occurrence of house dust mites, Prof. Jürgens conducted a representative study on used duvets from different households. It was established without exception, that the tested bedding articles contained practically no mites.

The Approach
It is not the house dust mite itself but its excretions, which trigger the allergy - and only if they occur in huge quantities. The presence of a small number of mites is not decisive in terms of allergies. House dust mites are present everywhere in the house, because they thrive on the same ecological environment as humans. Consequently, it is extremely difficult to completely eliminate them without losing much of the quality of living we are accustomed to. However, as only elevated numbers of house dust mites are harmful to allergy sufferers, it was examined first under which conditions mites reproduce massively.

House dust mites primarily feed on the shed scales of human skin and on those of their pets. One human produces approx. 0.5 to 1 gram of skin scales every day. As little as 0.25 grams is sufficient to feed several thousand mites for months. As the tests show, down and feathers are not on the house dust mite’s menu. This leads to the conclusion: it is the humans that the mites feed on – not the down and feathers.

A Textile Barrier
Interestingly, research showed that house dust mites are too large to penetrate into the tickings which encase down- and feather-filled bedding. The tickings allow for ideal air exchange and climate regulation, but they are so tightly woven, that the tiny down cannot pass through the fabric. Experts call this quality "down-proof". In any case, there is no reason for the mites to pass inside the ticking in order to feed on down and feathers. Furthermore, the down-proof ticking represents a barrier, which prevents them from migrating inside the bedding.

In Conclusion: a Clear "Yes" to Down And Feathers
Also people suffering from house-dust-mite allergy may enjoy the advantages and the comfort of down- and feather-filled duvets and pillows without regrets. As the survey shows, there are two main reasons why down- and feather-filled bedding is practically mite-free: On the one hand, mites primarily feed on human skin scales, and not on down and feathers, and have therefore no reason to penetrate into the ticking. On the other, the down-proof tickings act as a textile barrier for the mites.