those dastardly dust mites
dust mites (bed mites) are tiny insects of the arachnida class (along with spiders, scorpions, and ticks). They are very small, eight legged creatures that measure about 0.3 millimeters long. You probably won’t see any dust mites with your naked eye, but I assure you, there are plenty of them keeping you company. How do you know there are dust mites living around you? You might experience itchy eyes, runny nose, allergic rhinitis, and other symptoms that seems to get worse during the night while you are in bed.
Dust mites cause considerable health problems for us which usually manifest in the form of allergies and asthma. Ironically, it is not the dust mite that most people are allergic to; it is their fecal pellet, also called the frass. The pellet is a tiny, round object that contains proteins that many people are sensitive to, and each mite produces about 20 pellets per day. Once described in the literature as “glassy”, “translucent”, and “lovely,” conversely it’s effect on us is quite the opposite. The bed mite pellet has been responsible for extensive allergy suffering and numerous asthma related deaths! Below we will talk about the variety of allergy symptoms that the frass can cause.
where dust mites live
Did you know that we shed? No, not our pets...I’m talking about people! We shed about an ounce of skin scales every month, and dust mites love us for it. Since our bodies provide excellent sustenance for the mites, you can find them in places in which we spend lots of time, like: our favorite upholstered furniture, in carpeting, inside mattresses, in bed sheets and blankets, on pillows, and on soft toys.
We just cater to dust mites, don’t we? We give them plenty of food and we also provide just the right temperature (and humidity). These ubiquitous little creatures like temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees fahrenheit, the precise range of temperature in our homes. Also, they love high humidity, since these temperatures favor the mold that breaks down the dust mite’s food (human skin). If your home is humid, therefore, this is “icing on the cake” for bed mites! So why do we call the bed mites?
Dust mite allergen is relatively heavy. Compared to things like lint and fungus spores which float around readily in your household air, mite allergen tends to settle into your furniture, fabrics, sheets, pillows, and mattress. Where and when are you most vulnerable to the allergen? At night, in bed. When we sleep we have our faces resting on a pillow, our bodies on a mattress, and we are “immersed” in bed mite territory; we are taking in dust mite allergen with every breath. A typical double bed can contain more than 2 million dust mites; this can actually double the weight of the mattress in ten years!
dust mite allergy
About 10% of the population is allergic to dust mites, but it is as high as 25% in humid areas. In fact, this allergy is the primary cause of perennial, or year-round allergic rhinitis. Some of the symptoms resulting from this allergy are as follows:
• itchy, watery eyes
• allergic rhinits (hay fever)
• stuffy nose or ears
• sneezing and coughing upon awakening
• improvement of symptoms when outside
• runny nose
dust mite control
In the Carpet
Reduce Exposure by removing the carpet from your bedroom. A hard surface such as hardwood is a better choice, as it can be cleaned with a damp cloth. If carpets cannot be removed, special carpet treatments should be used to inactivate the allergen accumulated in the carpet and to reduce the mite population.
Frequent vacuuming is recommended for the removal of surface allergen from carpets. However, many vacuum cleaners leak, blowing allergy-causing particles (allergens) into the air. Replace your standard vacuum bag with a high filtration multi-layer bag and add a vacuum exhaust filter.
If you are ready for a new vacuum, there are now excellent, hypoallergenic vaccums that fully contain allergens you collect, retaining particles at 99.97% efficiency down to 0.3 microns.
In the Bedroom
1) Encase pillows in zippered allergen impermeable covers or wash every two weeks in hot waters (130̊).
2) Encase mattress and box spring in zippered allergen-impermeable covers.
3) Wash all blankets, sheets, pillowcases, and mattress pads in hot water (about one hundred and thirty degrees) every two weeks.
4) Wash comforters every two weeks and encase in allergen-impermeable interliners.
dust mite treatment
Consider using arachacides, which are chemicals that kill dust mites. Benzyl benzoate is considered safe by the FDA. It is a powder that is applied to carpeting, then vacuumed .
An example of this product is X-Mite powder and allergen denaturant which deactivates household allergens such as dust mite allergen, mold, pet dander and mildew. This powder would need to be applied 4-6 times per year.
dust mite allergy