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While many people welcome summer's longer, sunnier days, allergy sufferers are usually not as receptive to the season. After all, watery eyes make it a little harder to enjoy the beautiful blooming flowers.
Even those with dust mite allergies — who experience symptoms all year — might notice a surge in runny noses, itchy eyes and sneezing as the weather heats up. That’s because dust mites thrive in bedding and clothes, and flourish when the humidity increases.
“Dust mites are microscopic," said Dr. Stephen Kimura, an allergist in Florida. "They live off dead human skin, and your bedding is where they hang out.”
Dust mite allergies are even grosser than many people realize. “It is going to sound pretty disgusting — it is actually the dust mite droppings that people are allergic to,” Kimura said.
Washing bedding in water heated to 130 degrees Fahrenheit weekly can kill off dust mites. And, Kimura said anti-allergy products also help.
“It makes a world of difference,” he said.
Dr. W. Christopher Winter, a sleep expert at Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine in Virginia, said some patients experience poor sleep because they grapple with dust mite allergies. That’s when anti-allergen mattress protectors, pillowcases and sheets can help.
“Traditional bedding attracts a tremendous amount of dust,” he said.
There’s no official rating for anti-allergen bedding, but he urges people to look for something that says it's anti-allergen. Here are some of Winter's recommendations:
Best Mattress Covers, Pillow Covers and Sheets
1. Evolon Allergy Mattress Protector, $19-$39, Amazon
Specifically designed to keep dust mites and other allergens from settling into mattresses, this breathable, washable microfiber mattress cover features a zip-up design. It provides the protection of a plastic encasement without the crinkly feel and sound of plastic.
2. Bedgear Ver-Tex 6.0 Performance Mattress Protector, $180-$200, Bed Bath and Beyond
This breathable mattress pad repels liquids and blocks dust mites and other allergens from getting into the mattress. Additionally, its special fabric keeps the mattress cool, helping people who overheat at night.
3. SureGuard Pillow Protectors, $27-$36, Amazon
These cotton pillowcase covers protect pillows from dust mites and bedbugs without the uncomfortable feeling, sound and smell of plastic covers. They also shield pillows from saliva and other liquid stains with a water-resistant material.
4. SureGuard Mattress Encasement, $40-$60, Amazon
Like the SureGuard pillowcases, the mattress encasement is made of an odorless, comfortable cotton material. With its tight weave, it protects mattresses from dust mites and bedbugs while wicking away liquid to keep sheets cool and dry.
The SureGuard mattress encasement is also available at Walmart.
5. Mellanni Bed Sheet Set - Brushed Microfiber 1800 Bedding, $25-$32, Amazon
These brushed microfiber, 100 percent polyester bedsheets are hypoallergenic. They block dust mites using a material that's more durable than cotton. They also stay cool and dry at night for comfortable rest.
6. Savvy Rest Mattress Allergy Encasement, $259-$369, Savvy Rest
Made of organic cotton fabric, the Savvy Rest mattress encasements also use a tight weave that blocks dust, pet dander, dust mites and bedbugs. The unbleached fabric is machine-washable.
7. Bedgear Vert-Tex Performance Sheets, $300-$350, BedGear
These quick-drying sheets are made of a fabric that circulates air to keep people cool at night. The hypoallergenic material also makes it difficult for dust mites and other allergens to flourish in them. They’re available in full, queen, king and California king sizes.
(For a cheaper alternative to the BedGear sheets, check out the Sheex athletic cooling sheets. They're currently on sale for just $60 on Amazon, but usually cost $160. One of our editors uses them all summer!)
The Sheex sheets are also available at Bed Bath and Beyond.
This story was originally published on May 10, 2018 on TODAY.com.