Can Pillows cause Allergies?

Pillows & Allergies

There’s nothing like snuggling up with a cosy pillow after a tiring long day. If we are lucky, 1/3rd of our day is spent sleeping. Are you among those who love to cuddle your pillows and can’t do without one? Well you are not alone! Little do you know dust mites and fungal spores are uninvited guests in your pillows as pillows are filled with dead skin cells, dust and moisture for the mites to feed on.

Ten pillows which were analysed by Woodcock’s research team that had been in used for over 18 months identified between four and sixteen fungal species per sample. Synthetic pillows carried the most fungal spores. They are the inexpensive pillows fillings we use everyday and costs about $5 typically found in department stores/supermarkets. So aren’t we burying our heads in fungal spores and dust mites every night?

On an average, we shed 1.5 grams of dead skin every day providing a good feed for millions of mites & fungal spores. Pillows and beddings are places where dead skin accumulates and they make best homes for them. Their skin and faecal matter may also trigger allergies. When was the last time any of us changed our pillows? The older the pillow, the higher chances of it having dust mites, mould, bacteria and viruses.

Pillow Allergies? Unbelievable but true

Dust mites are almost invisible to human eyes. So, you could never say they exist. They look like small white spiders and can live up to 90 days. Fungal spores are microscopic biological particles that allow fungi to be reproduced. Both, dust mites and fungal spores thrive in warm and humid environment. Should we bother much about dust mites and fungal spores?

Research says

• More than 50 million Americans suffer from different kinds of allergies.
• Dust mites are common cause of asthma in children
• Home surveys revealed 51.5% households had at least 6 detectable allergens and 45.8% had at least 3 allergens exceeding elevated levels.

Dust mite allergy is an allergic reaction to these mites which live on your bedding, pillows and sheets. Experts say people who have such allergies should take measures to protect themselves.

It is always advisable for children, pregnant women and people with chronic allergies to use organic and hypoallergenic pillows, bedsheets and mattresses. Evidence show they carry significantly less or no dust mite allergens or fungal allergens on them. It is recommended to change your pillows at least one a year. Airy pillows because of its breathability keeps it dry and does not allow mites or fungi to grow.

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Can pillows really make us sick? If you are among those who wake up in the mornings sneezing or itchy red eyes, blame it on your pillows or bedding. Pillow allergies are very common these days.

Dust mite allergy and fungal spores could show these mild symptoms:

• Constant sneezing – especially in the mornings
• Nasal congestion
• Itchy eyes
• Headache
• Coughing

Severe allergy symptoms could be:

• Wheezing
• Shortness of breath
• Asthma

Some people also believe that the feathers are a reason for pillows allergies. Though this is not proven generally the dust mites and fungi whose proliferation is encouraged on and around feathers, cause pillow allergies.

Luckily, alternatives to feather pillows are available and these are marketed as hypoallergenic, are made with material that makes it hard for various allergen spores to infiltrate and build up.

Couple of tips to reduce your exposure to allergens.


• Wash your bed linen in hot water once in 15 days
• Ensure good ventilation in your room
• Use a vacuum with a HEPA Filter. HEPA filters are designed to arrest very fine particles effectively
• Discard old pillows which are worn out or dirty
• Keep the furniture, carpets and other things in the house dust-free. Use a mask when cleaning/dusting the house
• Keep pets out of the bedroom.
• Choose a pillow with a healthy fill and are anti-allergy pillows. There are many other healthy choices for pillows like 100% organic cotton pillows, buckwheat pillows, wool pillows, hypoallergenic pillows.

What about the rest of those who are lucky with no dust or pillow allergies? No one is born with allergies. Studies say that people develop allergies when exposed to dust regularly. Hence, it is still advisable for everyone to periodically replace the pillows.

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