House Dust Mites
More is known about house dust mite than any other allergen source - simply because it is such a common trigger for rhinitis, asthma and eczema. This is good, because we can give you lots of tips that work on allergen avoidance when it comes to dust mites.
FAQ about Dust Mites:
- What are dust mites?
- What is a dust mite allergy?
- How common is dust mite allergy?
- Where do dust mites lurk in my home?
- What is the link between dust mite and humidity?
- How can I get rid of dust mites in my housework routine?
- How can I get rid of dust mites with home improvements?
- Should I use an anti-mite spray to get rid of house dust mite?
- Is dust allergy always a result of house dust mite?
What are dust mites?
Dust mites (or House Dust Mites) are tiny (200-300 micron long) eight-legged creatures called arachnids and are closely related to the spider and the tick. They are found in every human habitation. There are two common species of house dust mite – the European house dust mite (Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus) and the American house dust mite (Dermatophagoides farinae). It is not dust mite itself which is the allergen, but digestive enzymes (proteins) contained in its droppings. The most important dust mite allergens are the proteins Der p1, Der p2 and Der p5. The whole droppings themselves are particles between 4 and 20 microns in size, but may crumble into smaller particles that can be as small as 0.5 microns across. House dust mites feed upon the skin scales shed by humans and other animals, found in house dust (hence their name). But dust mites don't bite or spread diseases. They are harmful only to people who become allergic to them. While usual household insecticides have no effect on dust mites, there are many ways to reduce exposure to dust mites in your home.
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. 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.
What is a dust mite allergy?
The house dust mite allergen is one of the most potent triggers of allergic reactions like rhinitis (running eyes, sneezing), asthma (wheezing, breathing difficulties) and childhood eczema. As with other allergens, dust mite allergen causes an ‘over-reaction’ in an allergic person. Immune molecules known as Immunoglobulin E are produced and these cause the release of an inflammatory chemical called histamine from mast cells (a type of immune cell). It is histamine that produces the characteristic symptoms of an allergic reaction. A non-allergic person’s immune system will not produce this reaction on exposure to allergens in pollen.
How common is dust mite allergy?
House dust mites are the most common cause of allergy symptoms in the UK.
Where do dust mites lurk in my home?
Dust mites favour bedding, mattresses, soft furnishings, soft toys and, to a lesser extent, carpets. The moisture and warmth produced by your body during sleep add to the problem – making the bed an ideal environment for coming into contact with house dust mite allergen. It is also easy to disturb dust mites. Walking across a carpet, getting in and out of bed or turning in bed will stir up a cloud of house dust mite and its allergen.
What is the link between dust mite and humidity?
To survive, house dust mites absorb water from the air (they don’t actually drink) and when humidity is less than 50% they tend to dry out and die. They also prefer temperatures about 70°F (21°C). It is crucial to get rid of damp in your home and to use background heating if necessary. Ventilate by opening windows, and check for condensation in the kitchen and bathroom. If you live in a humid area, consider buying a dehumidifier (however, be aware that very dry air can be uncomfortable especially if you have sinus or respiratory problems). An air purifier is a good solution, because it creates air movement that helps combat humidity, and at the same time it captures dust mite and other allergens out of the air.
How can I get rid of dust mites in my housework routine?
- Wash soft toys and bed linen weekly with the laundry detergent Allergen Wash from Allersearch – it destroys natural allergens such as dust mite allergen and pollen on contact. Allersearch Allergen Wash Laundry Detergent can be used with cold, warm or hot water, because it has an active ingredient in it that destroys the allergen on contact. If you wash your laundry with a regular detergent, note that a cooler wash will only get rid of some of the allergen and the skin scales the mites feed off.
Always make sure bedding is completely dry before putting it back, because mites will flourish in the presence of any trace of dampness.
- Consider washing clothes, which bring mites in from outdoors, with the mite-killing detergent Allergen Wash too. Make sure there is no damp in the wardrobe.
- Curtains, pillows, and duvets will need a good wash every few months as well.
- Vacuum floors, rugs or carpet with a vacuum that is fitted with a HEPA filter and that is leakage free.
- Use a good allergy air purifier to clean the air.
- Wipe down all furniture surfaces with a damp (but not wet) cloth each day and use an allergy dust spray such as the ADMS from Allersearch.
- Make your dusting routine as thorough as you can – don’t forget to go behind/under furniture, along skirting boards and picture rails, and anywhere else that dust might collect.
- Try adding a bit of eucalyptus oil to your duster, as this deters mites. There are also ‘anti-mite’ electrostatic dusters which hold onto the dust rather than spreading it around.
These efforts have to be continuous, rather than a one-off, because you can never eradicate house dust mite from your home for good, as new ones are always being brought in on people’s clothes. However, with a good air purifier you will limit your exposure to the allergens, and with the use of the Allersearch line of Cleaning Products you will quickly limit the number of mites in your home.
How can I get rid of dust mites with home improvements?
- Get rid of any clutter, like piles of newspapers and books, where more dust can build up. Put ornaments into glass cabinets rather than on open shelves.
- Consider replacing upholstered sofas and armchairs with leather or vinyl covered furniture, which house dust mite cannot penetrate.
- Similarly, you could perhaps replace carpets with wooden or vinyl flooring.
- In bedrooms (prioritise those of people with allergies) start afresh with a new mattress, duvet, and pillows and cover with mite-allergen proof covers (research has shown this does improve asthma in children allergic to house dust mite and these covers are probably the best investment you can make in tackling house dust mite).
- When choosing a new bed, remember that a raised bed makes cleaning underneath, where dust collects, so much easier. Padded headboards are dust traps, and a slatted base is good because it will encourage circulation of air around the bed.
- Replace curtains, which gather dust, with blinds.
- Seal up any cracks between boards on the floor so that dust does not come up from the space below the floorboards.
- Keep walls simple – no picture rails, no clutter on ledges.
These measures will create an entirely new environment which could seriously reduce the house dust mite burden in your home.
Should I use an anti-mite spray to get rid of house dust mite?
Using an anti-mite spray is an important part of your regular cleaning routine. A spray can penetrate mite reservoirs in carpets, for soft furnishings and mattresses we recommend using the X-Mite Powder Carpet Cleaner from Allersearch. It is a dry powder that helps to get rid of mites where they nest. Be careful to use cleaning products with natural ingredients, spraying a chemical, especially on a regular basis, may create problems for those with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and is certainly not recommended if there are young children around.
Is dust allergy always a result of house dust mite?
Although house dust mite is the most common cause of dust allergy, it is not the only one. Dust allergy may also be due to mould spores or pet dander.
Advice from the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology http://www.acaai.org/allergist/allergies/Types/dust-allergy-information/Pages/default.aspx
Dust Mite Information | Dust Mite Expert Advice | Dust Mite FAQs Articles
Living with Dust Mite Allergies
Dust mites are relatives to ticks and spiders. But house dust mites are so small, that they can not be seen with the naked eye. These arachnids (i.e. a group of arthropods that include spiders, scorpions, ticks and mites) have eight legs, and the females can produce more then 200 offspring in their short life span. Due to their fertility, up to 1,000,000 living dust mites can inhabit one single bed, in addition to millions of dead dust mites.
Dust mites are present in more or less every home, and live in mattresses, pillows, comforters, carpets, blankets, curtains and upholstered furniture.
Dust Mite Allergies & How to Fight Them
The house dust mite is one of the most potent and common triggers of allergic reactions like hay fever symptoms (running eyes, sneezing), asthma (wheezing, breathing difficulties) and childhood eczema. House dust mites are tiny (200-300 micron long) eight-legged creatures related to the spider and they are found in every human habitation. There are two common species of dust mites - the European house dust mites (Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus) and the American house dust mite (Dermatophagoides farinae). It is not dust mite itself which is the allergen, but digestive enzymes (proteins) contained in its droppings.
How to Remove Dust Mite Allergens During Laundry
What is the best way to go about controlling house dust mite allergens? We know that bedding and clothing are one of the main places that harbour house dust mite allergens. Laundering such items may help reduce allergen burden, but only if the mites and their remains are properly removed during the laundering.
Removing Mite Allergens from Bedding
House dust mite (HDM) allergen is an important trigger for symptoms of bronchial asthma and allergic rhinitis. Two mite species, Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus and Dermatophagoides farina are the main culprits involved, as they shed the allergens Der 1 and Der 2 respectively. There are immunoassay analyses now, which can measure levels of Der 1 and Der 2 in the environment and so assess the effectiveness of methods of removing them.