What Is a Dust Mite?
One of the most common root causes of asthma and allergies is often related to dust mites. These tiny, spider-looking creatures, measure only about one-quarter to one-third of a millimeter. They cannot be seen through naked eyes. A microscope is required to study these dust mites. Dust mites can withstand temperatures between 68 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit (20 to 25 degrees Celsius) and thrive in humidity levels from 70% to 80%. Currently, at least 13 species of dust mites have been classified.
The environmental conditions inside your house are favorable for their survival. They live on sloughed-off human skin. These tiny flakes of skin penetrate in the inner layers of carpets, bedding, stuffed toys and on the furniture. Dust mites thrive in such areas, where they can easily feed on the shredded skin particles. On an average, each individual shed up to 1.5 grams of skin in a day, which is sufficient for the survival of a million dust mites.
Dust Mite Allergy
Approximately 20 million Americans suffer from dust mite allergy. House dust mite allergy is a common term when considering asthma, eczema and rhinitis (hay fever). There is a strong relationship between dust mites and allergies; they can trigger allergy through various modes. It’s the waste products from the mites that are the true allergens and cause unfavorable susceptible reactions in any individual. It has been suspected that the waste droppings produced by the mites includes certain proteins that result in allergies. Hence, the droppings trigger the dust mite allergy symptoms even after the mite dies. Simply killing the mites may not be beneficial, however, it will control the numbers that may reduce the symptoms.
Dust mite allergy symptoms
If it’s a common dust mite allergy, the symptoms may include any of the following:
- Runny/Stuffy nose
- Irritation in nose, mouth or throat
- Itchy, red or watery eyes
- Postnasal drip (a flow of mucus from behind your nose into your throat)
If it aggravates your asthma, the symptoms caused include:
- Difficulty in breathing
- Stiffness or pain in the chest
- Coughing or wheezing
- Difficulty while sleeping
Measures to prevent house dust mite allergy
Dust mites can’t be avoided completely so this could be of great help if you could change your home environment. An important step towards getting rid of dust mite allergy includes limiting the exposure of the bedrooms and living areas to dust. It is necessary to implement certain precautionary measures to ensure the allergen count is low. This can be as simple as using an allergy-proof cover for your bedding and washing after regular intervals.
Although, dust mites thrive anywhere in the house, bedrooms are found to be the places where they mostly live. You can simply follow certain dust allergy home remedies to manage the allergic symptoms. The remedies include:
1. Allergy-proof mattresses covers
The covers are designed using a specific material that has minutest pores to prevent the dust mites and their waste product from entering. They are even termed allergen-impermeable because of their fabric property. You can simply count on cost-effective options like plastic or vinyl covers. However, those who find them uncomfortable can check for other available allergen-impermeable fabric covers.
2. Use hot water to wash your sheets
Make sure that you use hot water that’s at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit or more to wash your sheets and blankets. A weekly wash will help kill dust mites.
3. Get rid of all fabric types
Try not to use wall-to-wall carpeting, curtains, blinds, upholstered furniture for the bedroom. Instead of curtains, you can preferably make use of roll-type shades on your windows and use those fabrics that can be easily washed after regular intervals in hot water:
4. Prefer someone insusceptible to dust mite allergy
If you are allergic to dust mites, ask someone who is not vulnerable to such allergies. In case that is not possible, wear a mask when you are dusting the room or using a vacuum cleaner. Dusting and vacuum cleaner disturbs the dust particles in the air. Hence, prefer doing these chores when you can keep the bedroom undisturbed for sometime afterward.
5. Make use of specialized HEPA filter vacuum cleaners
If your vacuum, cleaner doesn’t come with a HEPA filter, you can check for your nearest specialty vacuum stores or an allergy supply to purchase the filters.
6.Damp-wipe and vacuum
Make sure to damp-wipe and vacuum all the surfaces every week
7. Maintain a humidity level
Try to maintain a humidity level less than 50% in your homes. You can increase ventilation in reduce humidity. e.g. Use exhaust fans in kitchens and bathrooms.
How To Treat Dust Mite Allergy
Dust mites are an extremely common allergen. They prosper in people’s homes, especially in bedrooms and other frequently used rooms. They can’t be seen but there are millions of them in every unorganized or unprepared home that stimulate year-round allergies and asthma. They live in your bed, cushion, carpets, furniture, bedding, clothing and anywhere else they can feed on dead flakes of human skin. It’s almost impossible to completely eliminate or eradicate these tiny pests. However, you can greatly diminish them by taking steps to control them.
There are a variety of ways you can minimize your exposure to dust mites. Some few surprisingly simple steps can really assist you to lead a healthier, and symptom less life.
- Cover and enclose your mattress and pillows in dust-mite-proof covers.
- Wash your bedding at least once a week in hot water or with All Temperature Laundry Detergent
- Use a High Efficiency (HEPA) Air Purifier to remove allergens from air.
- Install a quality disposable filter in your central air system.
- Treat all carpets, drapery, upholstery and other fabrics with a dust mite eliminator.
- Clean thoroughly once a week with a quality HEPA vacuum.
- Dehumidifier to keep the relative indoor humidity below 55%.
Here are the links for the studies for dust mite allergy:
“Specific immunotherapy for rhinitis and asthma with a subcutaneous hypoallergenic high-dose house dust mite extract: results of a 9-month therapy”
“Interleukin-4 enzyme-linked immunospot assay may be useful for diagnosing sensitization to house dust mite”