What is a dust mite?
Dust mites can be difficult to detect due to their small size. These microscopic arthropods are estimated to be only 1/4 to 1/3 millimeters long. You can only see them under a microscope, and even then, they only look like small white spider-like creatures.
The reason why dust mites are so prevalent in people’s homes is that they feed off of dead skin cells. On an average day, one person may shed 1.5 grams of dead skin cells, which can feed up to one million dust mites at a time.
Dust mites make their homes in places where dead skin cells are most likely to accumulate, such as bedding, furniture, and carpeting. Rugs and stuffed animals also make good homes for dust mites.
While you can find dust mites all over the world, these creatures tend to favor hot and humid climates. Since they can burrow themselves deep into cloth fibers, they can also travel with you when you move or are on a vacation or business trip.
Dust mites themselves are allergenic, meaning they can cause allergies. They also leave behind skin and fecal matter that may also trigger allergies.
While other bugs you encounter may bite, dust mites themselves don’t actually bite your skin. However, an allergic reaction to these pesky creatures may induce skin rashes. These are often red and itchy in nature.
Allergic reactions to dust mites are common and typically caused by inhaling the mites’ skin and fecal matter materials.
If you have a dust mite allergy, you may experience symptoms year-round. You may also notice that your symptoms peak during the hot, humid summer months. Common signs of a dust mite allergy include:
- postnasal drip
- runny or stuffy nose
- itchy, water eyes
- red, itchy skin
- itchy throat
Depending on the severity of your dust mite allergies, this condition may also trigger asthma.
You may notice wheezing, coughing, and chest pain as a result. Your symptoms may be worse at night when you’re lying down. The more you stay indoors, the more you may be prone to dust mite complications.
Dust mites are difficult to get rid of completely, but removing as many as possible from your home can help prevent allergic reactions.
The best way to get rid of dust mites is to target the areas they tend to live in and thrive. These include:
- pet bedding and furniture
- blinds and curtains
- toys and stuffed animals
Frequent vacuuming, wet mopping, dusting, and washing can all treat dust mites. You don’t need any specialized products. You just need to make sure you wash bedding in hot water and use wet cloth that can properly trap dust when you clean.
How do you prevent dust mites from coming back?
Prevention is key to avoiding allergies, including dust mites. It may be challenging to prevent them altogether, but you can take the following steps to control the dust mite population in your household:
- Avoid carpeting in your home as much as possible.
- Vacuum and deep clean all carpet and rugs as often as you can.
- Dust regularly, paying extra attention to blinds, furniture crevices, and other small areas where dust mites may accumulate.
- Keep the humidity in your home under 50 percent to ward off the conditions dust mites thrive in.
- Use certified allergen-capturing filters in all air conditioning units and vacuums to make sure dust mites and their fecal matter are fully captured.
- Wash all bedding weekly using hot water.
- Use zippered mattress and pillow covers to prevent dust mites from entering your bedding.
It’s important to note that pesticides do not get rid of dust mites.
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Miller, K. (2021, May 24). How to Get Rid of Dust Mites, According to Allergists. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/mite-bites