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Dust Mite Allergy

Dust Mite Allergy

The house dust mite allergen is one of the most potent triggers of allergic reactions. More is known about house dust mite than any other allergen source because it is such a common trigger for rhinitis, asthma and eczema. This is good because we can give you lots of helpful tips and advice to practice allergen avoidance and to effectively control your dust mite allergies.

Frequently Asked Questions

Dust mites are microscopic eight-legged creatures called arachnids and they are closely related to the spider and the tick. They are found in more or less every human habitation. There are two common species of a house dust mite – the European house dust mite (Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus) and the American house dust mite (Dermatophagoides farinae). It is not dust mite itself which is the allergen, but digestive enzymes contained in its droppings and decaying body. House dust mites feed upon the skin scales shed by humans and other animals, found in house dust. Dust mites do not bite or spread diseases. They are harmful only to people who become allergic to them. While usual household insecticides have no effect on dust mites, there are many ways to reduce exposure to dust mite allergens in your home.

As with other allergens, dust mite allergens cause an ‘over-reaction’ of the immune system in an allergic person. Immune molecules known as Immunoglobulin E are produced and these cause the release of an inflammatory chemical called histamine from mast cells (a type of immune cell). It is histamine that produces the characteristic symptoms of an allergic reaction. A non-allergic person’s immune system will not produce this reaction on exposure to allergens in pollen.

How common is dust mite allergy?

House dust mites are the most common cause of allergy symptoms in the UK.

Dust mites favour bedding, mattresses, soft furnishings, soft toys and carpets. The moisture and warmth produced by your body during sleep add to the problem – making the bed an ideal environment for coming into contact with house dust mite allergen. It is also easy to disturb dust mites, for example walking across a carpet, getting in and out of bed or turning in bed will stir up a cloud of house dust mite allergen.

To survive, house dust mites absorb water from the air and when humidity is less than 50% they tend to dry out and die. They also prefer temperatures of about 21°C (70°F). It is crucial to get rid of damp in your home and to use background heating if necessary. Ventilate by opening windows, and check for condensation in the kitchen and bathrooms. If you live in a humid area, consider buying a dehumidifier; however, be aware that very dry air can be uncomfortable especially if you suffer with sinus or respiratory conditions. An effective air purifier is a good solution because it creates air movement that helps combat humidity, and at the same time captures dust mite allergens and other allergy and asthma triggers out of the air.

  • Wash your clothes, soft toys and bed linen weekly with an allergy-friendly laundry detergent such as Allergen Wash. This destroys natural allergens such as dust mite allergens and pollen on contact.
  • Always make sure your bedding is completely dry before putting it back. Dust mites will flourish in the presence of any trace of dampness.
  • Curtains, pillows, and duvets will need a good wash every few months as well.
  • Vacuum floors, rugs or carpet with a vacuum that is fitted with a HEPA filter and that is leakage free.
  • Use a good allergy air purifier to clean the air from dust mite allergens.
  • Wipe down all furniture surfaces with a damp (but not wet) cloth on a regular basis and use an allergy dust spray such as the ADMS spray from Allersearch.
  • Make your dusting routine as thorough as you can – don’t forget to go behind or under furniture, along skirting boards and picture rails, and anywhere else that dust might collect.
  • Try adding a bit of eucalyptus oil to your duster, as this deters mites. There are also ‘anti-mite’ electrostatic dusters which hold onto the dust rather than spreading it around.

These efforts have to be continuous, rather than a one-off. It will be difficult to eradicate house dust mite from your home for good, as new ones are always being brought in on people’s clothes. However, with a good air purifier you will limit your exposure to the allergens, and with the use of the Allersearch line of Cleaning Products, you will quickly limit the number of mites in your home.

  • Get rid of any clutter, like piles of newspapers and books, where more dust can build up. Put ornaments into glass cabinets rather than on open shelves.
  • Consider replacing upholstered sofas and armchairs with leather or vinyl covered furniture that house dust mite cannot penetrate.
  • Similarly, you could perhaps replace carpets with wooden or vinyl flooring.
  • In bedrooms start afresh with a new mattress, duvet, and pillows and cover with mite-allergen proof covers (research has shown this does improve asthma in children allergic to house dust mite and these covers are probably the best investment you can make in tackling house dust mite).
  • When choosing a new bed, remember that a raised bed makes cleaning underneath, where dust collects, so much easier. Padded headboards are dust traps, and a slatted base is good because it will encourage circulation of air around the bed.
  • Replace curtains, which gather dust, with blinds.
  • Seal up any cracks between boards on the floor so that dust does not come up from the space below the floorboards.
  • Keep walls simple if possible – avoid picture rails and cut down on clutter on ledges.

These measures will create an environment that could seriously reduce the house dust mite burden in your home.

Using an anti-mite dust spray or dry powder is an important part of your regular cleaning routine. A spray can penetrate mite reservoirs in carpets, soft furnishings and mattresses. The X-Mite Powder Carpet Cleaner is a dry powder that gets rid of mites where they nest. When choosing allergy cleaning products, be careful to use cleaning products with natural ingredients, spraying a chemical, especially on a regular basis, can cause negative short term and long term health effects and can be a severe trigger for people suffering with allergies.

Although house dust mite is the most common cause of dust allergy, it is not the only one. Dust allergy may also be due to mould spores or pet dander.

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