Allergic to Dust Mites? Here's an Essential Guide on How to Get Rid of Them
What are dust mites
Dust mites are small, spider-like creatures that live in soft surfaces. They are too small to be seen with the naked eye. They thrive in warm, humid environments. Dust mites live in mattresses, bedding, upholstered furniture, and carpets. Since they like warm, moist spots, it's no wonder Antarctica is the only place they don't exist! Pro tip: Dust Mites do not bite humans
Their food source is the dead skin cells that people and animals shed. In addition, the feces and body parts of dust mites contain a potent allergen that can cause problems for people who are sensitive to it.
Dust mite allergies are among the most common types of allergies, affecting millions worldwide. In addition, they are the most common cause of year-round allergies and asthma.
Dust mite allergies can cause a variety of symptoms, including:
Sneezing, Runny nose, Congestion, Itchy, watery eyes, Coughing,Wheezing, Shortness of breath, Eczema
Dust mite allergy symptoms can range from mild to severe. The most common symptom is sneezing, but dust mite allergies can cause nasal congestion, watery eyes, and coughing. In extreme cases, dust mite allergies can trigger asthma attacks. Dust mite allergies are often mistaken for colds or flu, but there are some key differences. Dust mite allergy symptoms worsen at night or in the morning, and fever does not accompany them. If you suspect you may have a dust mite allergy, you must see a doctor for a diagnosis. Once you know what you're allergic to, you can choose the best strategy to reduce your symptoms.
There are a variety of ways to help get rid of dust mites in your home:
Bedding & mattresses: Our most significant exposure to dust mites will occur in bed since we spend at least eight hours there. So, use a dust mite cover on your mattress and pillows. These covers are designed to create a sterile environment for dust mites and can effectively reduce their population. Another option is to use dust mite-proof sheets when you sleep. These sheets are usually made of silk or polyester and can create a barrier that dust mites cannot penetrate.
Vacuuming effectively removes dust mites from your mattress, but it's essential to do it regularly. For best results, vacuum your mattress at least once a week using a vacuum with a HEPA filter. The ideal time is when you're washing your bedding. Keep the dust mite cover on (see Laundry below for instructions for washing covers).
Dust: Dust weekly with a damp cloth or dust mop. Doing so will help to remove dust mites and their feces from surfaces.
Humidity levels: Since dust mites thrive in humid environments, keeping the level in your home low can help reduce their population. One way to reduce the humidity in your home is to use a dehumidifier, which can be placed in any room and will reduce the amount of moisture in the air.
Air conditioners also effectively reduce humidity levels in your home; here's how they work. First, air conditioners draw air from your home and pass it over a refrigerant coil. Next, this coil is cooled by a Freon gas, which also causes the air to cool. The cooled air is then blown back into your home. At the same time, the air conditioner also removes moisture from the air. This moisture collects on the evaporator coil, where it is emptied outside your home.
Also, turn on ventilation fans in your kitchen when cooking, your bathroom when bathing, and your laundry room when washing clothes.
By taking these measures, you can reduce the amount of moisture in the air and create a more comfortable environment for you, but not for dust mites.
Laundry: Wash bedding in hot water (at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit) once a week. A dust mite's life cycle is only about two months long, but in that time, a female can lay up to 80 eggs, so hot water and frequent washings are wise ideas.
Carpeting, upholstery: Run your vacuum several times a week. And on upholstered furniture at least once a week. You can try using a HEPA filter in your vacuum cleaner. A HEPA filter will help trap dust mites and other allergens, making it easier to keep your home free of them.
Children's toys: A favorite stuffed pet might be hard to get rid of if your child has a dust mite allergy. Wash the stuffed animal in hot water (130 degrees) weekly. If that's not possible, put the stuffed "lovey" in the freezer overnight. This should kill the dust mites.
Hard flooring: Weekly damp mop hard surface floors. Be sure to wipe the corners where dust collects.
Other ideas: Install a HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) purifier in your bedroom and in other rooms in your home that you tend to frequent.
Change your HVAC (Heating, Ventilation Air Conditioning) filter regularly. Choose a MERV filter (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values) rated to help clean your home's air.
Remove carpeting and upholstered furniture in your home if possible.
Remove curtains in your bedroom.
What about furniture?
One of the most critical considerations for dust mite allergy sufferers is the type of furniture they have in their homes. Upholstered furniture and carpets are ideal breeding grounds for dust mites, so choosing easy-to-clean and dust-resistant furniture is essential. Leather, vinyl, and plastic are excellent choices, as they can be wiped down with a damp cloth and don't harbor dust mites as quickly as other materials. Avoid deep pile carpets and rugs, as they are challenging to clean and can trap dust and allergens. Opt for hardwood floors or low-pile area rugs instead. By making thoughtful choices about the furniture in your home, you can help reduce your exposure to dust mites and other allergens.
Different types of medications to help relieve your symptoms of dust mites
Antihistamines: These medications can help reduce sneezing, itching, and runny nose. They come in pill form or as nasal sprays. They are over-the-counter drugs and can be purchased at a pharmacy, grocery, or online retailer.
Nasal sprays: Dust mite allergy sufferers have a few different options for nasal sprays. There are over-the-counter nasal sprays that can provide relief from mild symptoms, and there are also prescription nasal sprays that are more potent and can be used for moderate to severe symptoms. If you're unsure which nasal spray is right for you, talk to your doctor or allergist. These medications have the least amount of side effects.
Decongestants: Decongestants are a type of medication used to treat allergies. They work by reducing swelling and inflammation in the nasal passages, which makes it easier to breathe. Decongestants are available as nasal sprays, tablets, and liquids. They can be bought over-the-counter or prescribed by a doctor. Common side effects of decongestants include dryness and irritation of the nose, mouth, and throat. If these side effects become severe, it is vital to stop using the medication and consult a doctor. In addition, decongestants should not be used for more than three days in a row, as this can lead to rebound congestion. However, when used correctly, decongestants can be an effective way to control allergy symptoms.
Oral steroids: If you have severe dust mite allergy symptoms that don't respond to other medications, your doctor may prescribe oral steroids. These are a type of anti-inflammatory medications that can help to reduce swelling in the airways and make breathing easier. Oral steroids are only available with a prescription from your doctor.
Immunotherapy: This is a long-term treatment that can help to reduce dust mite allergy symptoms. It involves receiving injections (shots) of dust mite allergens for several years. The goal is to build up immunity to dust mites so that you no longer have allergic reactions when exposed to them.
The FDA approved one immunotherapy drug five years ago. It is a sublingual drug, taken daily and dissolved under the tongue. Ask your doctor for details.
Frequently asked questions about dust mites
Are dust mites in every home? You can find detectible levels of dust mites in just about every home.
Do dust mites bite? No, they do not bite humans.
What if I wash my bedding in cold water? We recommend washing all items in hot water around 130-140 degrees.
Do dust mites affect indoor air quality? Yes!
Do dust mites trigger an asthma attack? If you have asthma and a dust mite allergy, you should take precautions. Additionally, dust mites can cause indoor air quality issues for those who have asthma but do not have a dust mite allergy.
What options are available besides shots and medication? There are several options, including immunotherapy and allergen sprays, but it is best to talk with your doctor about your particular allergy and course of treatment.
How can I find an effective allergen spray? Look for lab-verified allergen sprays, preferably third-party verified. This means an outside party has tested the product and confirmed that it works to reduce allergens. Also, look for one that doesn't contain harsh chemicals or scents that could add to your allergy burden. Finally, choose one that discloses their ingredients.
Glossary of dust mite terms
Allergens: An allergen is any substance that can trigger a negative reaction in someone who is allergic.
Allergic Reaction: When your body comes into contact with something you're allergic to, it can cause an allergic reaction. Symptoms of an allergic reaction can range from mild (a rash or itch) to severe (trouble breathing). In some cases, an allergic reaction can even be life-threatening.
Allergen Spray: A spray that can help control pet allergens in your home.
Dust mites: Dust mites are small, spider-like creatures that live in soft surfaces.
Oral steroids: is an alternative to shots which involves taking gradually increasing doses of allergens in pill form
Immunotherapy: is also an alternative to shots which uses drops of allergens placed under the tongue