Most of us are aware of the importance of regularly washing our pillowcases. However, if you needed a compelling reason, the consequence of this woman’s unhygienic slumber will have you throwing in a load straight away. A woman in China reportedly discovered she had over 100 mites living in her eyelashes after not washing her pillowcase for almost half a decade.
The woman, who only disclosed her name as Xu, had been experiencing itchy red eyes for two years. She treated the discomfort with over-the-counter eye drops and states that she’d grown used to the malaise. However, Xu was prompted to go to the doctors after her eyes became irritated and swollen that she could no longer open them.
Doctors at the hospital in Wuhan, in the central Chinese province of Hubei, discovered more than 100 mites living in her eyelashes, with one single lash holding as many as ten. The medics source her pillowcase, which she admits to using since 2012, as one of the reasons for her affliction in addition to lack of airflow in her bedroom.
Xu was diagnosed with blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelid) and conjunctivitis. To deter her becoming infested with these microscopic parasites again, the doctors simply told Xu to wash her bedding regularly. The idea of eye mites is undeniably unsettling, but apparently, millions of people have them and don’t even know it.
These mites, Demodex, are found everywhere but thrive in unsanitary environments, which made Xu’s unkempt pillowcase a perfect breeding ground. “[Xu’s] reaction was like an allergy, so while it seems incredibly gross, there was no real long-lasting impact,” microbiologist Jason Tetro told Global News. “But this is something that has been on the mind of researchers for well over four decades.”
Two species of mites are found on humans, demodex folliculorum and demodex brevis, and some studies have proven that almost every adult is infected with at least a few of them. However, there are things you can do to make sure your bedroom isn’t so hospitable to these microscopic parasites.
To minimize the growth of mites, it’s suggested to change your sheets and pillowcases at least once every two weeks. Protective pillowcases can also help mitigate mites and should be washed seasonally. However, replacing your pillow is also crucial. According to Dow, after 2 years, ⅓ of a pillow’s weight contains dead skin, bugs, dust mites, and droppings.