High levels of exposure to dust mite is an important factor in the development of asthma in children
What Are Dust Mites?
Dust mites are the most common cause of allergy from house dust. Dust mites are hardy creatures that live and multiply easily in warm, humid places. They prefer temperatures at or above 70 degrees Fahrenheit with a relative humidity of 75 percent to 80 percent. They die when the humidity falls below 40 percent to 50 percent. They usually are not found in dry climates. Millions of dust mites can live in the bedding, mattresses, upholstered furniture, carpets or curtains of your home. They float into the air when anyone vacuums, walks on a carpet or disturbs bedding, but settle out of the air soon after the disturbance is over.
There may be many as 19,000 dust mites in one gram of dust, but usually between 100 to 500 mites live in each gram. (A gram is about the weight of a paper clip). Each mite produces about 10 to 20 waste particles per day and lives for 30 days. Egg-laying females can add 25 to 30 new mites to the population during their lifetime.
Mites eat particles of skin and dander, so they thrive in places where there are people and animals. Dust mites don’t bite, cannot spread diseases and usually do not live on people. They are harmful only to people who become allergic to them. While usual household insecticides have no effect on dust mites, there are ways to reduce exposure to dust mites in the home.
Physical characteristics of the house dust mite
- Dust mites are Less than half a millimetre in length, this makes it hard to see with the naked eye.
- Oval-shaped body
- Light coloured body with fine stripes
- Life span of dust mite is around two months or so, depending on the living conditions.
What Causes Dust mite Allergy?
People who are allergic to dust mites react to proteins present within the bodies and faeces of the mite. Dust mite-allergic people; who inhale these particles frequently experience allergy symptoms.
What are the Symptoms of allergic reaction to house dust mite?
- A tight feeling in the chest
- Runny nose
- Itchy nose
- Itchy eyes
- Itchy skin
- Skin rashes.
Dust mite allergens persist at high levels during month of July. The lowest allergen levels are in September and October, but cold weather doesn’t necessarily mean the end of allergy. That’s because the mite faecal particles remain in the home, mixed in with dead and disintegrating mite bodies, which also cause allergies.
Tips for reducing house dust allergens
- Measure the indoor humidity and keep it below 55 percent. Do not use vaporizers or humidifiers. You may need a dehumidifier. Use vent fans in bathrooms and when cooking to remove moisture. Repair all water leaks. (Dust mite, cockroach, and mould allergy.
- Wash all bedding that is not encased in barrier covers (e.g. sheets, blankets) every week. Washing at 60 degrees centigrade or above will kill mites. House dust mite allergen dissolves in water so washing at lower temperatures will wash the allergen away temporarily, but the mites will survive and produce more allergen after a while
- Remove wall-to-wall carpets from the bedroom if possible. Use a central vacuum or a vacuum with a HEPA filter regularly. If you are allergic, wear a mask while dusting, sweeping or vacuuming. Remember, it takes over two hours for the dust to settle back down, so if possible clean when the allergic patient is away and don’t clean the bedroom at night. (Mould, animal and house dust mite allergies)
- Encase mattresses and pillows with “mite-proof” covers. Wash all bed linens regularly using hot water. (Dust mites’ allergy.)
- Replace wool or feathered bedding with synthetic materials and traditional stuffed animals with washable ones
- Light washable cotton curtains, and wash them frequently. Reduce unnecessary soft furnishings
- Vacuum all surfaces of upholstered furniture at least twice a week
- Washable stuffed toys should be washed as frequently and at the same temperature as bedding. Alternatively, if the toy cannot be washed at 60 degrees place it in a plastic bag in the freezer for at least 12 hours once a month and then wash at the recommended temperature
- Use a damp mop or rag to remove dust. Never use a dry cloth since this just stirs up mite allergens.
- Have your heating and air-conditioning units inspected and serviced every six months. (Animal, mould and house dust mites’ allergies.