House dust mite: All you need to know

House dust mite gets its name from its habitat – household dust. The primary component of dust is shed skin flakes, which are the mites’ favorite food source.

The mite population will be much higher around heavily used areas of the home, such as beds and upholstered furniture.

It is impossible to eliminate house dust mites, but you can reduce their numbers
It is impossible to eliminate house dust mites, but you can reduce their numbers

Dermatological and respiratory allergies, including eczema and asthma, have been known to be caused by dust mites. Although it is unclear whether house dust mites trigger an individual’s allergy symptoms, there are several factors that may contribute to this. Asthma, for instance, can be brought on by a range of indoor allergens, including fungi (molds) and animal dander (hair, fur, feathers).

Dust mite allergy

House dust mite does not bite like other common household pests (fleas, for example). Specific proteins in their bodies, secretions, and feces can trigger allergic symptoms in people with a sensitivity.

What you can do to reduce dust mites in your home

It is impossible to eliminate all dust mites, but you can reduce their numbers. Because allergic reactions are dose-dependent, the fewer dust mites you have in your home, the less likely you are to suffer respiratory or dermatological symptoms.

The droppings of dead dust mites continue to cause allergic reactions even after they have died. Dust mite populations must not only be reduced, but the dead bodies and feces must also be removed from the home.

Tips for reducing dust mites in the home

Allergen minimisation strategies include:

  • Keep your home as allergen-free as possible by deep cleaning it every month
  • Use dust mite-resistant covers for mattresses, pillows, and quilts. Wash them every two months. Some health funds may provide a rebate for these items.
  • Occasionally wash sheets and pillowcases in water that is hotter than 60 °C. You can also use a commercial product containing essential oils, such as eucalyptus or tea tree oil, if you wash in cold water.
  • Remove any sheepskin or woolen underlays and other sheepskin products.
  • Replace all soft toys in the bedroom with wooden or plastic toys
  • Instead of using a feather duster, dampen the dust or use electrostatic cloths to clean hard surfaces weekly.
  • Reduce humidity by having a dry and well-ventilated house. Install adequate floor and wall insulation and do not use evaporative coolers.
  • Avoid upholstered furniture – leather, vinyl, plastic, and wood are the best options.
  • It’s better to use Venetian blinds or flat blinds rather than heavy curtains. External shutters or washable curtains are other options.
  • After storing clothing for a long time, wash it before using it.
  • Remove carpets, rugs, and mats (where feasible and affordable) – bare boards and tiled floors are preferable as they can be damp mopped or cleaned with electrostatic cloths.
  • Clean and dry Rugs and mats outside in the sun (if possible).
  • Vacuum weekly, including mattress seams and upholstered furniture. Dust mite allergens become airborne up to 20 minutes after vacuuming, so if you are allergic to dust mites, you should wear a mask or have someone else vacuum for you. You may want to air the house for an hour or so after vacuuming to help clear the air.

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