You’ve probably heard of dust mites, but not many people are actually sure what dust mites are or where they come from. Dust mites are one of the most common indoor triggers for people that have allergies and asthma. Knowing more about dust mites will help allergy and asthma sufferers eliminate dust mites from their homes and avoid having their symptoms triggered.
Below we have provided some information about what dust mites are, where they come from and how they put you at risk for worsened allergy and asthma symptoms as well as tips for eliminating them.
What is a Dust Mite?
Dust mites are small, insect-like creatures that feed on flakes of dead skin shed by humans and pets. Because they are microscopic, dust mites cannot be seen with the naked eye, but nearly 4 out of 5 households in the United States have them. They can live anywhere including, bedding, carpets, mattresses and even upholstered furniture. Dust mites do not bite, nor are they parasitic. Aside from triggering allergy and asthma symptoms, dust mites are harmless. People who have dust mite allergies are actually allergic to dust mite fecal matter and body fragments rather than the actual dust mites themselves.
Where Do They Come From?
Dust mites are naturally occurring in most homes. Humidity is one of the major factors affecting whether or not a home will have dust mites. The small creatures actually absorb moisture from the air. If humidity is low it is unlikely that dust mites are able to survive. Because of this, dust mite concentration is usually much higher in the summer months.
Eliminating Dust Mites
If you or someone in your family suffers from allergies or asthma, symptoms will be affected based on the dust mite concentration in your home. You will want to take a number of measures to help eliminate them. Even if you aren’t an allergy or asthma sufferer you still may want to try and get rid of dust mites. Just because they aren’t harmful doesn’t mean you'll like the idea of microscopic creatures crawling around in your mattress, furniture or carpets! Here are some strategies you can use in your home to help get rid of dust mites:
- Protect Your Bed- One of the most common places dust mites are found is in mattresses, pillows and other bedding. This is due to the abundance of dead skin particles, or as dust mites see it, an all-you-can-eat buffet. By using allergy protection bedding, such as mattress protectors and pillow covers, you can keep dust mites from entering your mattress and other bedding. This will allow you to sleep dust mite and allergy free.
- Use a Dehumidifier - Dust mites thrive in high humidity. The dryer you can keep the air in your home, the less likely dust mites will be to thrive. Try to maintain a humidity of 35-50% in your home. Make it a point to keep the humidity of bedrooms the lowest to help ease dust mite allergies while you sleep. You can do this by keeping single room dehumidifiers in bedrooms.
- Limit Their Living Places - The less places there are for dust mites to linger, the less dust mites you will have. You can eliminate dust mite living spaces by keeping your house free of clutter. If you have items like clothes or toys laying on the floor, dust mites can easily cling to them. You may also want to consider installing hardwood floors instead of wall-to-wall carpeting. Dust mites can easily cling to carpet fibers, but there’s nowhere for them to hide on hardwood floors.
Dust mites don’t have to make you and your family miserable. While it may not be possible to eliminate dust mites 100%, you do have many options to keep their numbers in your home low. What steps do you take to eliminate dust mites and other allergens from your home?