What are Dust Mites?

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare

Dust mites are tiny, eight-legged arthropods that invade the home and nourish themselves on the dust flakes of human skin. Not only are these tiny mites an annoying indoor pest, they can also contribute to health concerns. Barely visible to the naked eye, a house dust mite inhabits mostly untidy areas; however, even seemingly clean homes and offices likely contain dust mites as long as dust exists. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce their presence as well as the health concerns associated with them.

The Health Concerns of Dust Mites

Millions of people are exposed to dust mites every day, with mattresses, bedding, and furniture being the most common places these pests reside. People with asthma may find that their symptoms worsen when exposed to an environment taken over by dust mites. These individuals may experience a lower quality of life through dust mite contact, especially if they are chronically exposed to the mite on an ongoing basis.

Research has shown that asthmatic children, when exposed to dust mites and other allergens, face the most serious risks. [1] According to leading experts, dust mites are one of the most common indoor allergens. Dust mite allergy symptoms include watering and reddening of the eye, sneezing, coughing, wheezing, and skin issues. [2]

Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is one of the common problems resulting from dust mite exposure. One study showed that people with eczema had more mites on their skin than normal. Many patients with atopic dermatitis are advised to constantly maintain a clean, dust-free home (as much as possible) — one of the most effective steps for reducing symptoms. [3]

How to Reduce Dust Mites in Your Home

In order to reduce the incidence of allergic or asthmatic symptoms related to dust mites, there are a few things you should do in your house. While basic cleanliness is enormously important, be sure to implement these simple, effective strategies too.

Reduce Humidity

Dust mites thrive in humid environments, so it is best to keep your home at less than 50% humidity. [4] Dehumidifiers aren’t expensive and may be the best approach. In dry climates where rain is sparse, opening the windows can also help release excess humidity in the home.

Clean

As their name implies, dust mites thrive in the presence of dust. When dusting the home, use a wet cloth or mop. Be wary of using a traditional duster, as it’s likely to just stir the dust around the home without actually picking it up. Cleaning carpets, or eliminating them completely, can also be a huge help. Wash bedding at least once a week to reduce dust mite accumulation on sheets.

Purchase an Air Filter

Nearly everyone can benefit from a high-quality air filter, especially since it’s not just dust mites you need to be concerned with. HEPA air filters remove more than dust mites, they also remove a lot of the most concerning environmental toxins that are floating around.

Zap Them

I’m not a big fan of microwaves but they do have one good use — they kill dust mites. One study showed that 300 seconds of microwaving on high and medium settings reduced 100% of exposed mites. Popping your child’s toy — one that is microwave safe, of course — in the microwave may be a helpful way of reducing your child’s exposure to dust mites.[5]

Protect Yourself

Herbal approaches for supporting resistance to the health effects of dust mites have been studied intensely throughout the past few years. Lemongrass and neem seed extract have demonstrated effective results for combating dust mites, not to mention other harmful organisms. [6] Using a product like AllerTrex™ may also be helpful for easing the unpleasant effects that are common with dust mite exposure.

Are you allergic to dust mites? What have you done, or what are you doing, to combat them? Leave us a comment and let us know!

-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

References:

  1. Gent JF, Kezik JM, Hill ME, Tsai E, Li DW, Leaderer BP. Household mold and dust allergens: exposure, sensitization and childhood asthma morbidity. Environmental Research. 2012 October;118:86-93. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2012.07.005.
  2. Bush RK. Does allergen avoidance work? Immunology and Allergy Clinics of North America. 2011 August;31(3):493-507. doi: 10.1016/j.iac.2011.05.005.
  3. Teplitsky V, Mumcuoglu KY, Babai I, Dalal I, Cohen R, Tanay A. House dust mites on skin, clothes, and bedding of atopic dermatitis patients. International Journal of Dermatology. 2008 August;47(8):790-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-4632.2008.03657.x.
  4. Arlian LG, Neal JS, Morgan MS, Vyszenski-Moher DL, Rapp CM, Alexander AK.Reducing relative humidity is a practical way to control dust mites and their allergens in homes in temperate climates. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2001 January;107(1):99-104.
  5. Ernieenor FC, Ho TM. Effects of microwave radiation on house dust mites, Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus and Dermatophagoides farinae (Astigmata: Pyroglyphidae). Southeast Asian Journal of Tropical Medicine and Public Health. 2010 November;41(6):1335-41.
  6. Hanifah AL, Awang SH, Ming HT, Abidin SZ, Omar MH. Acaricidal activity of Cymbopogon citratus and Azadirachta indica against house dust mites. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine. 2011 October;1(5):365-9. doi: 10.1016/S2221-1691(11)60081-6.

Reprinted from Global Healing Center.

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare