What are Bed Mites?
When you go to sleep at night, you’re probably not thinking about the microscopic creatures who love to eat your dead skin and who thrive in damp environments.
They are in your pillow, mattress, on your sheets and blankets. They are bed mites, also known as the house dust mite. They are everywhere, and they can cause a problem in any building anywhere, whether it is clean or dirty
Where else do these little creatures live? You will also find them in your rugs, carpets, upholstered furniture – just about anywhere where people sit or lie down. Because your bed is damp, they love to hang out there.
Their primary food is skin scales (dander) contained in house dust. People and pets regularly shed small flakes of skin from their bodies as the skin continually renews itself.
One good thing about dust mites is that they don’t actually bite you, so you’re not going to experience rashes, itching, and pain from dust mites like you would other types of mites, like chiggers, which cause havoc in the southern parts of the United States when you walk through tall grasses.
Adult bed, or dust, mites have a life span of between one and three months. You don’t have to let them live that long, though.
These microscopic organisms are just about one-fourth to one-third of a millimeter in size. You can’t see them with your eyes, but under the microscope, they resemble bugs with eight legs, which makes them arthropods, like spiders.
They like temperatures of between 68 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity levels of between 70 and 80 percent.
Can you guess how many species there are of dust mites? Thirteen! They feast on the up to 1.5 grams of skin you shed every day. That amount can satiate the hunger of one million dust mites.
Allergies and Treatment
The reactions that dust mites can cause in those allergic to them or in people with asthma can be severe. They may also be rather mild. You may be allergic to them and not even realize it.
It’s been posited that dust mites are the most common cause of allergies that happen throughout the year and asthma. They live on every continent except Antarctica.
You may have itchy, red, or watery eyes, a stuffy nose, or you may sneeze. You could have postnasal drip, a cough, or an itchy nose, mouth or throat if you have an allergy to dust mites.
If you have asthma, you may also have a hard time breathing, pain or tightness in your chest, or wheezing when you breathe, or you may find it difficult to sleep because of coughing, wheezing, or having shortness of breath.
Your doctor can do a skin prick test or a specific IgE blood test to see if you have an allergy to dust mites. It’s important to understand that just because you have positive tests, it does not mean that that specific allergen caused an actual allergy.
You may find relief from antihistamines, nasal corticosteroids, leukotriene receptor antagonists (which stop the action of important chemical messengers besides histamine) that happen in allergic reactions, coromolyn sodium (blocks your body’s release of chemicals that cause symptoms of allergies), or decongestants.
Allergy shots are another option, and they change how your body’s immune system responds to allergens.
How to Significantly Reduce the Number of Dust Mites in Your Home
First, dust your room as often as you can. Use a cloth that captures dust instead of just spreading it around. No feather duster is going to help you get rid of dust mites.
Cover your bedding with dust mite proof bed covers. Vinyl and plastic options are cheapest, but you can also find fabric allergen-impermeable covers. That includes your mattress, pillows, box springs, duvets, etc.
Also, wash your sheets and pillow cases every week in hot water (at least 113, but preferably around 140 degrees Fahrenheit). You can also use an anti-allergen detergent or a dust mite laundry additive. These unravel the protein allergen in the sheets, pillowcases and blankets.
Another way to cut down on the number of dust mites in your home is to use a denaturing allergy product like X-mite Carpet treatment, or ADMS or ADS spray, and use it on your furniture, curtains, rugs, and carpet.
However, remember that these products contain chemicals that you may not want to use in your home. Determine your level of comfort with dust mites before you use these types of products. If you’re severely allergic to them, it makes sense to try them.
You can also use a dehumidifier to get rid of extra moisture in your home, especially your living or family rooms and bedrooms.
Since dust mites like moist environments, they won’t be able to enjoy their lives as much if you dehumidify the air. In fact, they die, but their dead bodies and waste (digestive enzymes they excrete) can continue to cause allergic reactions.
Clean your bedroom the best since is where most dust mites live. Use a HEPA-filter vacuum, and consider wearing a mask when you clean to prevent breathing in the dust as you stir it around when you dust and vacuum.
Get hard floors instead of wall-to-wall carpeting, and get furniture that is not upholstered. Avoid fabric blinds, curtains, or down-filled covers and pillows. Use roll-type shades on windows in place of fabric draperies.
While dust mites will always be present in your home, getting rid of as many of them as possible will significantly decrease your allergic symptoms to them.