Dust mites, which are found in abundance in almost every home, are an allergen that can cause classic allergy symptoms in both humans and animals. They inhabit every piece of dust you have in your rooms, including blankets, curtains and toys. How can one reduce their population? Read on to learn how to de-bug your house as much as possible.
Image Credit: de.fotolia.com
Dust Mites 101
Dust mites are tiny arthropods reminding of white spiders. They prefer to live in a warm, humid environment. That is why human houses are a perfect home for them: there is plenty of food (they feed on skin particles), no freezing wind, and lots of places to live in.
They are found in dust and materials that accumulate dust well, such as bed linen (so much to eat there – yum!), furry toys, carpets, rugs, curtains, sofas, and every other piece of your furniture and belongings that is not easy to clean with one move.
Dust mites can cause allergy, because some people’s (and pets’ too) immune system reacts to mites’ waste (they eat, so there has to be some waste) and bodies, which are left when bugs die.
The bad news is that you cannot eliminate them completely. There will always be dust mites in your home, however hard you try to clean it. Still, it is possible to reduce their population and thus alleviate dust mite allergy symptoms.
How to Keep Your Home (Relatively) Mite-Free
- If you don’t have one, buy a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. Such vacuum cleaners are effective at keeping the dust and debris it removes within itself: older models, which are not equipped with a HEPA, tend to spread dust all over the place instead of gathering it. The best option is to purchase a wet & dry vacuum, which can be used weekly to clean not only the floor, but also the curtains, furniture, mattresses, etc.
- Purchase an air purifier. It can catch particles of dust and pet fur, pollen, and other molecules that can be harmful.
- Clean your house regularly. Besides the weekly routine, wipe all surfaces with a wet cloth every day. Yes, it sounds scary, but everyday cleaning is the basis of dust mite allergy symptom management.
- Dispose of or hide somewhere the carpets and toys you do not need. They accumulate a lot of dust on them. Another option is to wash them weekly using hot water (60 oC / 140 oF).
- Wash your bed linen every week using hot water (60 oC / 140 oF). The water should be hot, because dust mites are likely to survive if it’s colder.
Keeping your house as mite-free is possible is a tedious thing, but the symptoms that the allergy can cause are irritating, so these efforts are usually rewarded.
Among the symptoms of dust mite allergy are the following:
- Watery eyes
- Red eyes
- Itchy eyes
It is especially important to clean your rooms properly if you or someone living with you suffers from asthma. Dust mites are a potent allergen, and exposure to it can trigger asthmatic symptoms, which can be dangerous and even life-threatening.
If you do not know what causes your allergy while you are at home, you can consult a doctor and undergo one of the following tests (or both):
- IgE blood test. A doctor will take your blood sample and separately add several allergens to it. If a lot of antibodies appear in response to it, you are likely to be allergic to this allergen.
- Skin prick test. An age-old method, which implies making tiny holes in your skin and applying small drops of liquid with allergens on them. If the skin in the affected area swells and becomes red, you are allergic to this substance.
Except for allergy, there seems to be no reason to try to eliminate dust mites: they do not bite, you cannot feel it when they are crawling, etc. However, if you are allergic to them, chances are that you are going to need a powerful vacuum cleaner.
What’s to know about dust mite allergy? – Medicalnewstoday.com