One of the most common asthma and allergy triggers affecting about 20 million Americans are tiny, microscopic organisms called Dust Mites. These anthropods feed on the dead skin cells of humans, animals and even some types of mold. On average, humans shed about 1.5 grams of skin a day, which is enough to feed over one million dust mites. Over 90% of homes are affected by dust mites. They are attracted to warm and humid environments and like to migrate and populate in household dust, carpets, curtains, upholstery, and bedding.
Dust mite allergies are common in childhood and young adulthood, in individuals with a family history of allergies, asthma sufferers and in those exposed to high concentrations of dust mites.
Although the lifespan of dust mites is only a couple of months, the allergy symptoms caused by their feces can cause atopic dermatitis, asthma, and other respiratory issues.
Itchy nose and mouth
Prolonged exposure to dust mites increases the risk of asthma attacks and sinus infections. Severe allergic reactions to dust mites may require immediate attention and may include, difficulty sleeping and difficulty breathing.
While impossible to completely eliminate, there are several things that can be done to help manage dust mites and their resulting allergic reactions:
- Use pillow and mattress covers that keep dust mites from burrowing into soft fabrics where skin cells have collected over time
- Wash bedding at least once per week in warm water
- If possible, change carpets for hardwood floors so they do not collect in the carpet fibers
- Try to keep humidity levels below 50%
- Use a dehumidifier if needed
- Use a steam cleaner regularly on carpets and rugs to kill dust mites
- Use a HEPA vacuum specifically designed for allergen removal
- Check and replace air filters monthly