Dust mites are insect-like arachnids, so small you need a microscope to see them, but they are not parasites.
They do not bite, sting or burrow but they do trigger allergic reactions and asthma in a large amount of people.
Dust mites live in four out of five homes, and can live in bedding, mattresses, furniture, carpets and curtains.
These small arachnids feed on dead human skin cells as well as dander that both animals and humans shed, which are often found in dust.
Their fecal pellets and body fragments are what trigger an allergic reaction or an asthma attack.
Your Health & Dust Mites
Dust mites are on the top of the list for indoor triggers for those with allergies and asthma.
When there is continuous exposure to dust mites in the home, it can cause a dramatic impact on those with asthma and allergies who are sensitive to dust mites.
Dust mites can trigger an immune system response, called allergic rhinitis, which can cause certain symptoms.
Depending on how severe the allergy is, mild symptoms can include a runny nose, watery eyes, and sneezing.
While more severe symptoms consist of persistent sneezing, coughing, congestion, facial pressure or even a severe asthma attack.
For those with asthma (who are more sensitive to dust mites) have an increased chance of having a flare-up or an asthma attack.
Other chronic lung diseases, such as COPD, can be triggered by dust mites as well, and can lead to serious flare-ups.
If you believe that dust mites are triggering your allergies, make an appointment with your doctor to get tested.
Dust mites trigger allergic reactions and asthma attacks, so antihistamines and inhaled steroids (i.e. inhalers) are often a short-term form of relief.
For long-term treatment, immunotherapy (allergy shots and tablets) can help reduce the body’s response to the allergen.
Other treatment would focus on trying to remove or prevent all dust mites from the home to minimize any risk of allergic reaction or asthma attack.
How to Prevent Dust Mites
Dust mites are found naturally in nearly every home, but there are ways to minimize the amount of dust mites in your home.
Unlike humans, dust mites do not need to drink water they simply absorb it, so without humidity they cannot survive.
By using a dehumidifier and removing as much moisture from your home, you can prevent your home from being comfortable for the mites.
Dust mites also love living in your bed as it is a haven for all of your dead skin cells (which they eat).
It is important to clean the bedroom every week, by washing the sheets and pillows in hot water and use a hot setting to dry them, vacuuming the carpets can also help remove them from your bedroom.
When cleaning, make sure to wear a mask and keep a window open in order to minimize how many dust particles you breathe in while cleaning.
If you are unable to wash your sheets and pillows every week, try to put them in the dryer on hot at least once a week to kill off any dust mites and remove dead skin.
Try to also vacuum the mattress, box spring and carpets under the bed, as dust mites may reside in any of these locations.
To lower the amount of dust mites getting into your pillows and mattresses, get dust covers for your pillows and mattress.
Using high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter and replacing them as needed can help reduce the amount of dust mites in your home.
Smaller preventative methods include using a damp rag to wipe down dusty surfaces, try to use synthetic materials for bedding and replace carpet with bare floors if possible.
You can also contact bug experts near you and discuss what more you can do for your home based off of your location and climate.
Dust mites live in areas that have enough moisture in the air and have dust.
Though you cannot see them, it is likely that there are dust mites in your home.
This should not alarm you, as they cannot cause you any serious physical harm, but they can trigger allergies or asthma.
In order to prevent them from living in your home, make sure to vacuum around and on the bed often, as well as wash sheets once a week.
Even if you cannot wash your sheets, throwing them in the dryer on high heat can help kill off any dust mites and sanitize your sheets and pillows.
If you are concerned about dust mites and allergies, speak with your doctor to get tested and reach out to a local exterminator to discuss what you can do at home.