Controlling House Dust Mites

dust mite

The picture above is a microscopic appearance of a house dust mite. House dust mites can be responsible for airway allergies. Affected individuals who are allergic to house dust mites can develop allergic rhinitis symptoms and worsened asthma control when exposed to house dust mite allergens. House dust mites can also worsen atopic dermatitis as the allergens can penetrate the skin barrier and cause atopic dermatitis flares.

Here are some house dust mite control measures.

1) Bedding

  • Encase mattresses, box springs, duvet, and pillows in allergen-proof fabric covers.
  • Wash bedding weekly in hot water (130° F or 55–60° C) and dry in a hot dryer (maximum heat setting). Cover comforters and pillows that can’t be regularly washed with allergen-proof covers.

2) Room environment

  • Replace carpets with hard flooring (e.g. linoleum or wood). Wall-to-wall carpeting should be removed as much as possible. Throw rugs may be used if they are regularly washed or dry cleaned.
  • Minimize upholstered furniture or replace with plastic or leather furniture.
  • Minimize dust-collecting objects; keep items in closed cupboards
  • Replace curtains with blinds.

3) Cleaning

  • Use a vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate) filter or a double-layered bag, and wear a dust mask (or ask someone else to vacuum).
  • Remove soft toys if possible. If not possibe, soft toys can be frozen (one study used 5° F or -15° C for at least 16 hours) or placed in a hot tumble dryer (maximum heat setting) for 1 hour to reduce levels of dust mites by 90% or greater. If using freezer method, also wash soft toys to remove dead mites and debris.

4) Humidity

  • Reduce indoor humidity if possible (to ideally 50% or less) and use air conditioning. Dust mites require humidity to survive and thrive.

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