Many living things reside permanently in a mattress or on pillows. The number of holes and air chambers they house are the perfect habitat for many arthropods and other organisms .
Occasionally, large guests arrive, such as ants, depending on the particular situation of each house. The most common inhabitants of a mattress are much smaller, so much so that they are not usually visible to the naked eye.
It is perhaps one of the best known bed bugs , although it is not usually in homes. They are more common in places with a low level of hygiene , such as some shelters or hostels, with shared beds.
Bed bugs are hematophagous , that is, they feed on blood like female mosquitoes . Like them, their bite can leave marks on the skin and, in extreme cases, rashes and hives.
Avoiding bed bugs is simple. It is enough to maintain a correct hygiene of the bedding and the mattress . Also, since they are relatively large —up to 5 millimeters—they can be seen with the naked eye. Some mattress covers are thick and thick enough to prevent a mattress-dwelling bed bug from doing any damage.
Although fleas are mainly associated as parasites of dogs and cats, nothing prevents them from parasitizing people. The bed is an optimal place to establish a refuge and even to lay eggs.
Like bedbugs, they are hematophagous , but unlike them, they are much smaller and more elusive , and unless we pay close attention – or they are well swollen with blood – we usually do not see them , we only perceive their very unpleasant effects.
The hygiene of bedding and mattresses is once again the best way to keep fleas at bay . It is also convenient to vacuum carpets, as fleas easily jump from one surface to another. In any case, every flea arrives at the house introduced by a pet or by a person, and in any case, it will come from a garden, a park or the countryside .
In the city, where fleas are rare, one way to prevent fleas from reaching our beds is therefore to maintain proper hygiene protocols. It is highly recommended to apply repellent to pets to prevent ectoparasites from adhering to them.
On people, fleas often stay on clothes, therefore, when you return from a walk in the country, it is best to wash your clothes without touching the bed, carpets or sofas.
However, if you live in the country , the situation is more complicated, and more drastic methods may be necessary to avoid fleas, be it in the form of repellents or even insecticides.
Mites are not insects, but arachnids. Unlike the previous cases, these animals are ubiquitous . Their small size—between 0.2 and 0.2 millimeters—allows them to mix with dust and even float in the air. They prefer moist and warm places . In the beds, we humans are the ones who, with our sweat and body heat, provide them with that comfortable environment in which to live.
Being so tiny, they nimbly pass through the textile fibers, moving through the different layers of the mattress and feeding on our dead skin. Every year we lose between 1.5 and 4 kilos of epidermis, and the one that ends up in the mattress is extraordinarily nutritious for these arthropods.
Mites do not attack, bite, sting, or transmit any disease.
They would be qualified as totally harmless if it were not for the allergies they cause in some people.
Keeping mites at bay is more complicated than with other animals; washing bedding will not remove mites from the mattress — only if it is washed above 55 degrees celsius — and even vacuuming only removes the ones that live in the topmost layers. They can also live in stuffed animals, which should be washed or frozen from time to time. Mites do not survive freezing.
Placing the mattress in the sun from time to time can create an environment dry enough to kill dust mites. It can be useful to use dehumidifiers with some frequency. Finally, there are miticide products that, under certain circumstances, could be used, always in the hands of a professional.
Apart from animals, our bed is also inhabited by these fungi . Its tiny spores are everywhere, even in the air we breathe, and reaching and settling on mattresses is no challenge for molds.
Molds live in particularly humid environments, so a good way to prevent their appearance is to sunbathe or use dehumidifiers. If air conditioners are used, it is recommended that they have air filters.
It is difficult for them to reach the extreme of being dangerous for people, however, there are respiratory pathologies associated with the presence of molds in mattresses and pillows.
It has recently been discovered that some cases of hypersensitivity pneumonitis may be caused by these fungi in bedding. It is a pathology that, until recently, had an unknown cause in up to 60% of cases.
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