When you’re sitting peacefully at home, do you notice yourself beginning to sneeze uncontrollably or start wheezing out of the blue? Chances are you may be allergic to dust mites in your home.
What exactly are dust mites?
These are microscopic spider-like creatures, that thrive in indoor moist, warm and dark places of 70 F or higher and 75% – 80% humidity. They feed off organic non-living skin particles that are shed from humans and animals. These flakes of dead skin are found in multitudes on and between furniture, bedding and carpets. It’s no wonder, these are the most common places for dust mites to thrive. One flake is enough to feed a couple hundred dust mites! They are the lead cause of asthma attacks at home and may cause persons to feel like they have an ever-lasting cold.
Why am I having an allergic reaction to dust mites?
You may be wondering what exactly causes one to become allergic to these tiny creatures. The digestive enzymes present in the feces of dust mites as well as their exoskeleton induce allergic reactions such as sneezing, coughing and wheezing in individuals. This is a defensive mechanism of the human body which interprets the allergens as disease agents.
How can I get rid of dust mites?
Because the feces and outer skeleton of the dust mite is what causes allergic reactions, killing the dust mites will not remove the allergen. However there are some ways that you can reduce the amount of dust mites present in your home with regular specialized cleaning routines and daily practices. Here are a few tips on how to combat these little creatures:
For Around the House
1. Use a damp cloth or mop to clean floors at least once a week and get rid of any dust and debris.
2. Vapor steam-clean to eliminate dust mites and air out furniture and carpets.
3. Open up windows and let light into the rooms to help destroy dust mites as they are unable to survive in direct sunlight.
4. Wash all mats, throw rugs and fabric curtains in hot water once a week.
5. Use more leather, wooden or metal furniture instead of mainly upholstered furniture in the home to decrease the available dust mite conducive environment.
6. Vacuum all upholstered furniture to get rid of dust and debris.
7. Get an air-conditioning system or dehumidifier to decrease the humidity level in rooms.
8. Reduce the amount of wall-to-wall carpets or remove them altogether and utilize throw rugs that are easier to clean.
9. Reduce the over-all clutter in the household and dust surfaces regularly.
For The Bedroom
1. Get a brand new pillow every 6 months or so.
2. Wash bedding in very hot water in order to remove dust and destroy dust mites.
3. Get rid of old, unnecessary stuffed animals or fabric/soft toys as they collect dust particles. Freezing them and then shaking outside once frozen is another method of “cleansing” them from dust mite infestations.
4. Place airtight, plastic covers on all mattresses and pillows.
What can I use for my allergies?
1. Antihistamines are allergy relieving medications that can help with sneezing, coughing, wheezing and itchy and watery eyes that accompany your dust mite allergies. They can be purchased over the counter at your local pharmacy or prescribed by your personal doctor.
2. Allergy shots or immunotherapy, if prescribed by your doctor can provide a longer term relief for symptoms of dust mite allergies.
3. Decongestants clear the upper respiratory tract to reduce nasal congestion caused by dust allergies.