Dust Mites


Most of us have questioned the reasons as to why there is a sudden onset of itching, when we sit down on our favorite couch or lie down in the bed. It was Anton van Leeuwenhoek, the inventor of the microscope who indicated the presence of dust mites in dust. This was in 1694; and currently all of us are aware of the fact that dust mites are found to be present in house dust across the world.

Dust mites cannot be classified as insects. Instead they come under the arachnid category and are believed to be closely related to ticks and spiders. Two of the most common forms of dust mites are the European dust mites, termed as ‘Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus’ and the American dust mites, termed as ‘Dermatophagoides farinae’.

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Dust mites are microscopic in size and not visible through the naked eye. They are generally found in couches, carpets, bedding and old clothes and have a preference for warm and humid conditions. They nourish themselves on the dead skin that withers away from the bodies of humans and animals. It should also be noted that dust mites allergen differs as per the geographical regions and the changing seasons.

One can define an allergy as the adverse reaction of the body to an alien substance such as pollen, which are recognized as allergens by the immune system. It is a known fact that a large section of the American population are affected by some type of allergy and that it is sixth, in the list of chronic diseases in the United States. Pollen grains are the leading cause of allergic reactions and dust mites come a close second.

The allergic reactions are the result of contact with the feces of the dust mites. The dust mites generally tend to live for a period of about four weeks and can manufacture feces nearly 200 times their weight. When the female dust mites are in their third week of their lives, they bear eggs which result in a little more than 24 new dust mites. A mattress, couch, etc can be completely infested by dust mites in about six months. Such infected items could harbor close to a million dust mites.

Symptoms of dust mites allergies

Dust mites do not directly cause any illnesses. The reactions are caused by prolonged exposure to the feces of the dust mites. Some of the symptoms of allergic reactions caused by contact with dust mites feces are as follows:

  • Bluish and swollen skin under the eyes
  • Runny and congested nose
  • Increased redness in those body parts that are itchy
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy throat, roof of the mouth or nose
  • Recurrent awakening
  • Red, itchy or watery eyes
  • Cough
  • Facial pain and pressure

In case the dust mites allergy adds to asthma, then the affected individuals may also show the following symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Sleeping problems caused due to wheezing, coughing or breathing difficulties
  • Presence of a viral illness such as flu or cold can worsen the bouts of wheezing and coughing.

Dust mite allergies can range in severity level. Mild cases elicit occasion symptoms mentioned above, whereas severe cases may show symptoms that are persistent, chronic and debilitating

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How to kill dust mitesĀ 

The process to control dust mites is expensive and hence if an individual is not severely affected by dust mite allergies, then he/she can resort to simple measures such as dusting, vacuuming and thorough cleaning. In case, the allergies to the feces of dust mites are severe then one has to take a number of additional precautions, which are not only expensive but time consuming too.

One incorrect popular belief is that dust mites thrive in air ducts, and hence a lot of affected individuals spend time and money on cleaning them. On the contrary, dust mites cannot live in air ducts as they do not provide the basic necessities for their survival, i.e. a continuous supply of food and a humid and warm environment. Such conditions are provided by the upper layers of mattresses during humid weather and the inner layers during unfavorable weather.

The dust mites travel from one place to another by latching on to the clothes.

Some of the methods that one can employ to control dust mites are discussed below:

  • One can opt for plastic shades in place of curtains and such shades should be cleaned with a wet cloth at least once a week. Use of cloth wall hangings should be avoided.
  • Carpets should be replaced by either wooden or tiled floors. Use of upholstered furniture needs to be avoided.
  • Enclose pillows, mattresses and box springs in dust proof covers that come with zips. Dust all bedding materials before sleeping every night. Wash them in hot water every other week.
  • There are several flea and dust mites control products that can be used as per the instructions provided.
  • A high-efficiency purifying air or HEPA filtration system should be used to vacuum the house. It is important to immediately get rid of the bags, as the dust mites can leave them.

It is essential to note that dust mites cannot be completely eliminated. However, by employing the above methods, one can effectively control their growth and thus control their spread.

Dust Mites Pictures

Here are dust mites pictures, see how they look under microscope and how they cause allergy indoors.

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One Comment

  1. sheri says:

    What spray do you recommend for carpets & microfiber furniture for dust mites? And what kind of spray can I use in the air for dust? Is Lysol okay? Do air purifers really work or are they a waste of money? Thank you

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