Dust Mite Allergy

What is a Dust Mite Allergy?

This is the house dust mite (also known by it’s latin name Dermatophagoides). It is a few fractions of a millimeter long and cannot be seen with the naked eye. It lives off dead skin and is present throughout the house. As much as 10-20% of the weight of old pillows may be dead skin. Dust mites, having eaten the dead skin, then leave droppings / excrement everywhere which contains some of their stomach enzymes. It is these stomach enzymes that we are allergic to; these allergies can lead to asthma, excema, but most importantly for us, rhinitis – a blocked, itchy, runny or sneezy nose. This in turn can cause sinusitis and ear problems.

Dust mites like warmth, humidity and dead skin. The ideal room for them to grow in is a bedroom, over centrally heated, under ventilated, with lots of fabric like thick curtains, thick long pile carpet, bedding, cuddly toys, infrequent laundry with only warm water.

Dust mites don’t like cold and dryness. Good ventilation, being exposed to the atmosphere to dry up, direct light. Temperatures over 60 degrees centigrade and under freezing will kill them. Some chemicals will also kill them. The dust mites worst possible room is:

  • somewhere with a dry climate – like the Alps or Arizona
  • no carpet (stone, wood or linoleum)
  • no soft furnishings at all
  • window wide open
  • no heating

How to Get Rid of Dust Mites

  • Get allergy testing and make sure that you are actually allergic to house dust mite.
  • Generally speaking, although killing mites is initially very desirable, if the dust is left in place, the mites will soon come back, so take action against the dust and the mites.
  • Focus on the bedroom, since this is their major breeding ground.

Step by Step Around the House

Floors: Carpets are an ideal place for dust to settle. The best thing is to get rid of them and either have bare floorboards or vinyl. People in flats may not be able to do this for reasons of noise. In this instance a short pile carpet is a good idea and a very good vacuum cleaner used regularly.

Curtains: Wooden blinds or plastic curtains are ideal. Damp dust them regularly (weekly) to stop the dust building up.

Bedding: Wash all bedding regularly (weekly) in temperatures above 60 degrees centigrade. This gets rid of dust and kill mites.

Mattresses: Mattresses harbour lots of dust. Turn the mattress over regularly and vacuum it with a good vacuum cleaner.

Mattress and Pillow covers: Probably the single most important item to get. They stop the dust getting at the mattress and pillows and stop the mites under them getting out. Get mattress and pillow covers. The mattress and pillow covers will also need to be washed at 60 degrees regularly.

Replace your pillows regularly.

Making the Bed: Instead of making the bed normally, turn the duvet down to expose the mattress and underneath of the duvet every morning and leave it like that until bedtime. This will expose the mites to light, cold and ventilation and dry them out.

Furniture: Upholstered furniture traps dust. Ban all upholstered chairs and sofas from the bedroom. Plastic, leather or wood is fine. In the rest of the house this helps, but is less important.

Furry toys: The best thing is to get rid of them completely and if your child wants something to cuddle, a blanket (especially a cotton one) is ideal, as long as you can regularly wash it at 60 degrees. If parting with teddy is a worse prospect than the underlying problem, then regularly wash it in the machine. Tumble dry on hot to be extra sure or place in freezer for 24 hours which will kill the mites, but not get rid of the dust.
Vacuum Cleaners: Make sure you change the filter regularly.

With years of experience and expertise in the field of allergy and immunotherapy Dr. Michael Bublik can help you understand your allergy, relieve your symptoms and get you back to enjoying your life again. If you are someone who suffers from chronic allergies please contact us today!

Learn more about Michael Bublik, MD.



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