Feather tick in pillows: symptoms in humans, how dangerous


D r. Sherry Rogers, the renowned environmental physician from New York, wrote in her national newsletter, Total Health in Today’s World, in 1997: «Are you waking up each day feeling revitalized and ready to start a new day? When you sleep, your body does the work of clearing out all the toxins you inhaled, ingested and sipped during the day. If that load of toxins was too much, you won’t finish the work and you will awaken groggy and grouchy.

«Your body is constantly assaulted by chemicals in today’s world. What you do not want to do is add to its total chemical load when you sleep. The heavier your chemical clean-up load, the more intense the demand on your body’s detox system, and the greater the likelihood that you’ll get sick.

«Anything you can do to reduce your body’s total load will help promote wellness. One of the easiest things to do is rest your head on a toxic-free cotton pillow. Why am I picking on your pillow? The reason is that if you use a foam pillow, you are breathing the chemicals released from foam, including toluene diisocyanate and formaldehyde, which can cause allergic reactions and initiate cancer.

«Are you resting your head every night in toxic pesticides? This could well be the case if you use a goose down pillow. The oils that hold the down together are also a source of chemicals.

«You don’t want to stick your face into the new antimocrobial pillows either. These pillows continually release a chemical bath of polyester, acetate and antimicrobial compounds such as Microbian or Allerban right under your nose.

«Invest in your health and reduce the load on your body’s detox system by replacing your chemical-laden pillow. . .One of the best sources for cotton pillows I’ve found is KB Cotton Pillows, Inc.»

Also, the KB 100% cotton pillow is the only 100% cotton pillow to receive the «nontoxic» and «natural» ratings in Debra Lynn Dadd’s book, Nontoxic, Natural, and Earthwise

In the recent issue of Natural Health magazine, Tina Spangler wrote an article called «Is Your Bedroom Making You Sick?» which is excerpted below.

«You’d probably like to think you’re safe and sound when snuggling under the covers in bed. A firm mattress, clean sheets, and a comfy pillow and you’re all set for eight hours of rest and relaxation for body and mind, right? Wrong.

«From memory loss to headaches, depressions to itchy eyes, an array of health problems can arise from exposure to seemingly innocent bedroom objects. Most mattresses and pillows, for example, are filled with chemical-drenched synthetic fibers such as polyurethane foam that release chemicals into the air for years; these airborne toxins can cause headaches and nausea, and even lead to multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), a condition that stems from exposure to toxic chemicals and results in a myriad of crippling symptoms. Microscopic dust mites (and their allergenic fecal matter) frequently infest mattresses, pillows, and carpeting, leading to respiratory problems including coughing and sinus congestion. And electromagnetic fields, or EMFs, which can be emitted from your alarm clock, have been linked to cancer.

«Fortunately, making your bedroom a safer and more restful environment does not require a dramatic overhaul. It just involves recognizing danger zones so you can naturalize and improve your bedroom, bit by bit.

«You spend a third of your life — that’s twenty-five years—in bed, sleeping with pillowcases pressed against your nose and mouth, and sheets rubbing your skin. With such intimate contact, you should choose your bed linens with great care.

«Polyester percale sheets (and blankets) are actually just soft thermoplastic, which is made from petrochemicals. The least comfortable and most harmful bed linens you can buy are polyester «no-iron» sheets. Not only are they made from petrochemicals, but they are treated with a formaldehyde resin finish. Cotton/polyester-blend, wrinkle-resistant sheets are also treated with formaldehyde.

«Combed-cotton percale sheets, with at least two hundred threads per square inch, have the tightest weave and the softest, smoothest texture. Don’t be fooled by the percale all-cotton sheets labeled «easy care» or «no-iron,» which are treated with formaldehyde. Instead look for natural sheets made from unbleached cotton.

«Always wash bed linens (even all-cotton ones) before using them the first time. To avoid wrinkles, hang them outdoors in the fresh air, or put them in the dryer and then remove as soon as they’re dry.

«Mattresses and pillows may be the biggest bedroom healt offenders because most of them are stuffed with polyurethane foam—which can cause respiratory problems as well as skin and eye irritation—and because they harbor dust mites. Dust mites, found in all homes, are tiny insects whose fecal matter causes allergic reactions in five hundred million people around the world, according to Deborah Parrish, founder and president of Priorities, a mail-order catalog with products for allergy relief, in Wellesley, Massachusetts. The mattress foam also releases toluene diisocyanate, a chemical that can cause severe lung problems. The highest concentrations of these hazardous chemicals are emitted in the first few years of the mattress’s life.

«Chances are when you visit a department store to buy a new pillow or mattress, you’ll hava a tough time finding anything other than polyester or foam-filled varieties.

«Pillows are like mini-mattresses that your face presses against for hours and hours, night after night. Cotton-filled pillows are the recommended alternatives to chemical-drenched polyester foam.»

As you can see, nowhere is it more important for the ill or allergic person to build a clean environment than in the bedroom. Eight to 10 hours out of every 24 hours are spent in the bedroom with your nose in close contact with your pillow. This is an area where a great reduction in the stress load on the body can be accomplished by eliminating all synthetics from the bedroom and using only cotton pillows, sheets, drapes and spreads.

Goose Down Allergies in Dogs

Most Common Symptoms

Goose Down Allergies Average Cost

From 569 quotes ranging from $200 — 500

Average Cost

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What are Goose Down Allergies?

That new goose down pillow you just bought may be comfortable for you, but it may be making your dog miserable. Some dogs are allergic to goose down and owners don’t know it until they unknowingly bring it into their home. Goose down can lead to a contact allergy or an inhalant allergy in your dog. Either way, it needs to be addressed. Symptoms are usually mild resulting in skin irritation, itching, or possibly a mild respiratory-related issue. If goose down is the cause, removing it from your dog’s environment should solve the issue.

Goose down can be found in many bedding materials, coats, or even some dog toys. While it may make for a luxurious item, it can be causing your dog to suffer allergy symptoms. If your dog develops any of these symptoms from an item containing goose down in your home, you should take him to see his veterinarian.

Symptoms of Goose Down Allergies in Dogs

Symptoms of goose down allergies in dogs may manifest in different ways. Symptoms of allergies may include

  • Itchy skin
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Licking/ chewing of feet
  • Small red bumps on skin
  • Skin irritation


Dogs with allergies to goose down may have a contact allergy or inhalant allergy because of it. In contact allergies, where the goose down comes into contact with your dog, that is where the skin irritation and itching will most likely occur. As for an inhalant allergy, it usually affects the respiratory and related systems most. This is where the runny nose, eyes and coughing is likely to be seen.

Causes of Goose Down Allergies in Dogs

The allergic response to goose down may develop quickly or may develop over a period of years. If your dog has an allergic response to it, it is his body’s way of mistakenly protecting itself from harm. While the item in question is actually harmless, the body doesn’t recognize it as such. The body finds it dangerous and mounts a protective response to the threat. Your dog’s body produces an immune response to the goose down feathers resulting in irritating symptoms.

Diagnosis of Goose Down Allergies in Dogs

When you first arrive at the veterinary clinic, the veterinarian will start with a physical examination. This will allow her to take note of all your dog’s symptoms. If your dog is experiencing any coughing or wheezing, she may want to take a radiograph to get an internal look of the lungs. This will help rule out pneumonia, bronchitis, or any other respiratory related illness. If your dog’s skin is irritated, the veterinarian may take a skin scraping to check for external parasites or bacterial overgrowth. If your dog has watery eyes, the veterinarian may perform fluorescein staining to check for a scratch on the eye that might possibly cause the watering.

Kidney and liver function will be verified with a urinalysis. Blood work will be performed to give the veterinarian a broad look as to how the internal organs are functioning. A complete blood count (CBC) and chemistry panel will provide the veterinarian with needed information for proper assessment. A packed cell volume (PCV) may also be performed to determine hydration status.

With contact or inhaled allergies, you can also perform allergy tests. One test is called intradermal testing. This involves injecting the skin with the suspected allergen and waiting to see if an allergic response occurs. There is another allergy test that involves taking a blood sample and sending it off to a special lab for them to test it. With this test, they can determine what objects your dog is allergic to and how severe. While this test sounds the easiest, it can be expensive.

Treatment of Goose Down Allergies in Dogs

If you discover goose down is the cause of your dog’s symptoms, you need to remove it from his environment. This may mean his new bed needs to be given to someone else, or that he cannot sleep on your new comforter with you. If the allergic response is extremely severe, you may have to remove any goose down items from your home entirely.

The veterinarian may prescribe a medication to help with the itching your dog may be suffering from. This medication will help for a while, but f you do not remove the source of his itching, you will have to continue to give the topical or oral prescription, and possibly continuously increase the dose as time goes on. This will cause your dog’s immune system to be suppressed and increase his risk of a more serious illness.

Recovery of Goose Down Allergies in Dogs

If you get a new item with goose down and notice your dog developing allergy-like symptoms, discuss it with your veterinarian. It may be a coincidence or it may be the cause of his symptoms. If your dog is allergic to goose down but you continue to leave the goose down item in your dog’s environment, his immune system will continue to overreact. This weakens it since it is trying to fight something that isn’t actually hurting him, leaving him vulnerable. However, once the goose down items have been removed from your dog’s environment, prognosis for a full recovery is good. His immune system will get back to full strength and will keep him healthy. It may be an inconvenience to you that you have to get rid of some nice things, it will be better for your dog.

Feather and Down Pillows: What You Don’t Know About America’s Favorites

“This down pillow has ripped open and it’s so funny! My step-father, Steve, will clean up the mess when he gets home.”

Some people swear that feather and down pillows are the only way to sleep. I myself have slept on down pillows for most of my life. There’s a lot to like. They’re durable, moldable, and work reasonably well for all sleep positions.

Unfortunately feather and down pillows come with some baggage.

Cleaning can be difficult.

I have personally destroyed several down pillows and at least one comforter in the wash. I’m sure many of you have done the same. It’s quite easy to ruin things filled with feathers and down. Be careful:

  • Drying it too hot can scorch the fill.
  • Allowing it to sit wet for too long will result in a really foul-smelling mold. Be sure not to forget them in the washer!
  • Washing and drying both can cause clumping of the down clusters, which will cause your pillow to become lumpy and flat.

Proper cleaning of down and feather pillows will help them last longer, if you can do so without damaging them in the process.

Down and feathers don’t grow on trees.

That’s right, you heard it here first… down comes from ducks and geese! While you might expect that there are humane ways of obtaining these feathers, in reality it’s probably traumatic for the birds no matter how it’s done.

Would you tear out this poor mother’s feathers?

How are feathers removed from birds? There are three unpleasant methods:

  1. After slaughter for meat – This generally involves boiling the bird’s corpses in water for several minutes to loosen the feathers. The body feathers are then plucked and the down is separated either by hand or machine.
  2. Live plucking – Every six to seven weeks before slaughter, birds are captured and “harvested.” They are held down by the neck and their feathers torn out. This process often results in the bird’s skin being torn. Public outrage over this practice has resulted in large retailers like IKEA and Patagonia eliminating live-plucked down from their products.
  3. Gathering from live birds – This method involves brushing or combing the animals to extract feathers and down that are ready to fall out naturally. This is the least traumatic of the three harvesting techniques, yet abuse is still frequent in industrial production.

Those who are concerned with animals’ well-being, should be aware that purchasing many down products may result in the poor treatment of animals.

Pillow shoppers that are committed to their down filling AND want to treat birds with respect should look for products manufactured using The Responsible Down Standard (RDS). RDS is an independent, voluntary global standard that recognizes and rewards the best practices in the harvesting of bird feathers.

Down and feather pillows have an unfortunate tendency to flatten out as you sleep.

Light and fluffy is great if all you need is cuddly. However, when sleeping, your head and neck need proper support so that your muscles are relaxed and your spine is aligned in a straight line. It’s hard to get that support when your pillow turns into a pancake in the middle of the night. Down and feather pillows generally suffer from a lack of consistent support. They tend to flatten out under the weight of your head during the night causing a downward bend in your neck. They require frequent refluffing and adjustment to maintain loft and support.

Feather and down pillows retain heat.

Feather and down filling is frequently used as insulation in comforters and sleeping bags. It is terrific at keeping the warmth in and the cold out. Unfortunately that isn’t ideal in the context of pillows. Feather and down fill types retain body heat, which can make your pillow hot and uncomfortable, particularly during the summer months. The fill can restrict free air flow preventing heat from escaping. Repeatedly having to flip to the cool side of your pillow is not conducive to good sleep. By the way, that mold I mentioned… It loves the savory conditions of your sweaty down pillow!

NOTE: Contrary to a vocal (and misinformed) minority, allergic reactions to feather and down pillows are rare.

Down is often blamed for causing allergic reactions. It turns out that genuine feather allergies are quite rare. Most reactions can actually be attributed to dust mites or mold, both of which can thrive inside a down pillow. Down feathers tend to become more allergenic with age – they slowly become more and more contaminated. For this reason, some recommend that down pillows be replaced as often as every 6 months. That can get pricey in a hurry!

Try this (very different) alternative to down and feather pillows…

I would have been stuck with my sad squishy down sack forever, but thanks to a friend’s recommendation, I tried a buckwheat pillow. I wasn’t an instant convert; it was very different, so it took some getting used to. But, after about a week, I was sleeping much better. I tossed out my down pillow. A year after that I was manufacturing my own buckwheat pillows. Yes – I love them that much! Don’t take my word for it. Our customer’s reviews speak for themselves! I love this testimonial from a feather pillow convert:

“As far back as I can remember using a pillow at night, I’ve used a feather pillow. Pillows stuffed with the softest down have been my default, my go to. I haughtily looked down on pillows of any other type. This was even though I’d been growing more dissatisfied with my feather pillow’s tendency to wake me in the middle of the night because it’s lofty support had degraded and squished away through after a few hours…

The first week was difficult. I was so used to the soft, plushness of feather pillows: the buckwheat pillow felt like a slab of concrete in comparison. But, then the second week hit. By then, my muscles were well adjusted. The pillow start to feel supportive rather than hard. I was a convert! This pillow is great. It excels at all-night-long support and good breathability. Unlike my feather pillows of the past, this pillow works with/for me, rather than against me. What a fantastic pillow!” –Geoff, verified Hullo customer

Looking for other alternatives to down and feather pillows? Check out our guide to types of pillows available.

4.5 out of 5 stars

A Superior Alternative to Feather and Down Pillows

Have you ever tried a Hullo buckwheat pillow?

Are Mite Bites Dangerous?

Do mites transmit disease to humans? I have been bitten many times over the past 5 months and I’m getting concerned. Can you tell me what I can do to prevent the bites?

Mite bites can transmit disease in some parts of the world, but generally not in the U.S. The mites you encounter here can cause severe itching and, in the case of house dust mites, allergic reactions.

The most common mite bite comes from chiggers, insects too small to be seen with the naked eye. They’re usually found during the late spring and summer in grass, weeds, wild berry patches and woodland underbrush in damp, shaded spots.

You may not be aware of the presence of chiggers until you begin to itch or notice raised, red spots on your skin. The troublemakers are the larvae that sink their tiny mouthparts into a skin pore or hair follicle and inject a digestive enzyme that liquefies skin cells. After about four days of feeding, the larvae drop off, leaving behind red welts that can continue to itch for a week or longer. While chigger bites don’t cause disease, if you scratch the welts they can become infected. Antihistamines and corticosteroid creams or lotions are often recommended to help relieve the itching, although I would be inclined to try herbal products first, such as tea tree oil.

House dust mites don’t bite but are one of the most common indoor allergens. Individuals allergic to “house dust” are really allergic to the mites and their feces that become airborne and are a major component of dust. These allergies can trigger asthma attacks. Dust mites feed primarily on dander, flakes of dead skin that fall from people and animals. They can be found on upholstered furniture, pillows and mattresses. Their population increases during periods of high humidity. If you’re allergic to house dust, make every effort to dustproof your home. Eliminate dust catchers such as wall-to-wall carpets, Venetian blinds, and curtains (unless you wash them regularly in hot water to kill the mites). Dust furniture regularly with a damp cloth and clean the floors with an oiled mop. Eliminate down-filled blankets and feather pillows and encase your mattress in an airtight, dust-proof plastic cover.

The other common mites that bite are scabies, Sarcoptes scabiei, microscopic creatures that burrow under the skin and cause intense itching. You can pick up scabies by prolonged contact with a person already infested. These mites spread most readily in crowded places such as hospitals, childcare facilities, nursing homes and other institutions. However, you can’t get scabies from pets, because animals attract types of mites that don’t survive on the human body. Aside from itching (which usually is worse at night), symptoms include hive-like bumps on the skin that tend to show up first between the fingers, on the elbows, wrists, buttocks, or waist. I recommend treatment with neem, a natural, nontoxic pesticide made from Azadirachta indica, an Indian tree. Neem products are available at health food stores and on line; make sure they are intended for medicinal, not cosmetic use. To relieve itching, try counterirritant ointments or creams such as Bengay from the drugstore or the Chinese herbal remedy Tiger Balm, available at many health-food stores and on the Internet.

Feather Mites in Birds

Most Common Symptoms

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What are Feather Mites?

Red mites are hard to see with the naked eye, often leaving a white sheet on the cage at night (red mites are nocturnal) and in the morning, you will see tiny red or brown spots which indicates your bird has mites. They are blood sucking and are found usually around the head and vent areas where it is easier to get a hold. After feeding on your, bird the mites often hide in the cracks in the cages, perches and even in the nest boxes. They can be fatal to chicks in the nest.

Feather mites affect birds in outdoor aviaries, and if left untreated can cause your bird’s demise. It can be contagious to other birds as well.

Symptoms of Feather Mites in Birds

  • Your bird may be restless during the day and even more so at night when the red mite is active
  • Constant preening or even feather destruction as your bird strives to rid the mites
  • Mite eggs laid in the feathers (usually hard to detect without a microscope)
  • Mites are blood sucking parasites that are a constant threat to your bird
  • Fatalities can occur if not treated, especially in younger birds
  • Mites cause the loss of blood causing anaemia


  • Chiggers are the name of the immature mite. These chiggers cling to your bird by feeding on the body for around 14 days and then drop off
  • Red mites are nocturnal and will be more active at night, moving around the feathers disturbing your bird’s sleep
  • The parasitic red mite which is only present in the outdoors usually but can move indoors with your pet

Causes of Feather Mites in Birds

  • Once mites get into the cage they can multiply rapidly and all birds can become infected rapidly in a large aviary environment
  • The immature stage of the mites feed on the thighs, breast, undersides of the wings and vent, causing scabby sores
  • The parasitic red mite can remain in the nest box to re-infect your bird or its friends
  • Red mites are opportunist feeders and can spread to other pets
  • Vigilance is needed to prevent reinfection

Diagnosis of Feather Mites in Birds

The behavior of your bird will be a sign that all is not right. Restfulness and constant preening, even feather destruction can become a signal that your bird friend needs help. Covering the cage at night with a white sheet then checking in the morning for tell-tale red or brown dots is a sign that mites are around. Under a microscope, these mites are clearly visible. Your veterinarian can give your bird an examination and will know where to look to discover this pest.

Usually, the thighs and undersides of the wing and around the vent are the most likely spots to find the red mites. If your bird has begun feather chewing or destruction, it is vital that you treat the bird before feather destruction becomes a habit. Once it has formed the habit it can be very hard to break and although not dangerous to the bird, it can be quite unsightly. A rapid response is necessary as soon as you detect your bird being restless or chomping on his feathers.

Treatment of Feather Mites in Birds

After consultation with the veterinarian, sprays, powders or other medication may be administered with his supervision. Safer sprays now are available such as ivermectin type medicine, insecticide treatment such as Nuvan, and water cleansers. These three items can be used to control mites. Some treatments can be administered orally or by injection. Ivermectin can be delivered to your bird via his drinking water. It is safe for breeding stock and during the moult. Nuvan can be sprayed onto the plumage then gently fluffing the feathers over a white tray or plastic sheet to catch the mites that fall off the feathers.

A natural product is available – it is called permethrin which is extracted from the daisy flower. It is a powder that is mixed in water and sprayed throughout the aviary or as a bird bath to help control the life cycle of the mites. Available also is a product called Avian Insect Liquidator- it is an all-purpose water based insecticide that is harmless to the birds but effective against insects. During and after treatment thoroughly clean the bird cages and nest boxes. Replacing them if possible is even better to prevent re-infection.

Recovery of Feather Mites in Birds

The key to management is to remain vigilant and keep your bird’s home sanitised by cleaning regularly. Providing a water dish or bath for your bird will help, most birds like to bathe daily and will do so without prompting. You may find your bird quite enjoys a light misting with water to assist them to remain clean. Treating areas such as their perches and nesting areas is vital to keep the red mites away.

Red mites have a life cycle of around seven days, so to properly treat this pest you need to treat your bird and the cage every second day for around eight days. Be aware that the treatment will have no effect on the eggs, it will only kill the adult and immature mites, so continue with the treatment to catch the hatching eggs.

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