Jeff Flowers on December 13, 2013 2 Comments Although dust mites are tiny creatures, they can cause big trouble for people who suffer from asthma and allergic reactions. These microscopic bugs share living quarters with humans and animals, feeding on the invisible flakes of dead skin that are shed every day. If a dust mite infestation is not treated properly, it can lead to wheezing, asthma attacks, and other health problems. This quick guide can help you learn more about the health dangers of dust mites and how you can avoid the ill effects that sometimes come along with them. Why Are Dust Mites So Common? In almost every place where humans live and work, you can also find a few dust mites lurking around. You won’t see them, but they’re undoubtedly there. They are tiny bugs, barely a hundredth of an inch in length, looking like tiny specks of dust to the unaided eye. After they feed on small pieces of organic matter, like tiny flakes of dead skin, they produce microscopic particles of waste that can cause severe allergic reactions in sensitive people. During a life cycle of just a few weeks, each dust mite can produce up to two thousand of these particles. When you combine this with the excellent reproductive capacity of dust mites, you have a recipe for allergies and breathing difficulties. This is precisely why dust mites can be so dangerous to one’s health. Click Here To View All Dust Mite Covers What Causes the Allergic Reaction? The waste produced by mites contains a variety of allergens that can trigger sneezing, wheezing, inflamed skin, runny nose, red eyes, and itchiness. If your immune system is sensitive to these allergens, it “misreads” them as disease-causing germs and starts producing antibodies to fight them off. The resulting chemical reaction causes the various sorts of discomfort associated with dust mite allergies. For people who already suffer from asthma or other respiratory problems, the health risks can be considerably worse. What Can You Do About Dust Mites? Dust mites can be rather difficult to eradicate completely. However, there are many ways to keep them under control in your home. Mattresses and bedding materials are the most popular places for dust mites to congregate. Studies of home mattresses have shown that each gram of dust in them can contain more than 2,500 mites! Although vacuuming is a good way to keep your bedroom looking neat and tidy, it only encourages the dust mites by launching them into the air, giving them even more room to spread out and reproduce. Pesticides, such as disodium tetrahydrate, can be used in powder form to kill-off dust mites, although we would only recommend using these as a last-ditch effort, as the possible side effects associated with pesticides may be rather uncomfortable for you and your family. 6 Ways to “Mite-Proof” Your Home You can make a variety of smart choices to help keep dust mites away from you and your family. These are some steps you might want to consider taking if you suffer from dust mite-related health problems: Wash Clothes & Bedding Frequently: Be sure to wash all bedding and clothing frequently. Washing in hot water, as well as drying in high heat, will also help kill off any dust mites living within. If you must store unused clothes in your home, keep them clean and wrapped in plastic bags. Remember that dust mites love to feed on flakes of skin and other human waste products. They are not interested in clean fabric. Protect Yourself With Hypoallergenic Bedding: Now that you are frequently washing your bedding, you should consider going a step further and buy hypoallergenic bedding to give an extra layer of protection from dust mites. Because of the fabric’s tightly-woven design and small pore size, it’s nearly impossible for mites and bedbugs to penetrate through the material. Whether you buy a mattress encasement or a pillow cover, this type of bedding is a safe and affordable option to protect yourself from unwanted bed bugs, dust mites, microtoxins and mold. Keep Humidity Low: Dust mites do not like a dry environment. Use a dehumidifier in your home to help keep the moisture levels low. This will not only help you control the dust mite population, but will also hinder the growth of mold. Get Rid of Carpets: When you replace carpets and rugs with hard floor surfaces, the dust mite population will almost certainly drop. They’re easier to clean and create an environment that is less-favorable to dust mites. Clean Dust With Damp Rag: Cleaning all of the dust accumulating around your home is a good idea. However, it’s wise to use a damp rag to do so, as a dry one will stir up dust mites. Use Natural Feather Bedding: It would be wise to use natural feather pillows rather than polyester fiber pillows. Despite some persistent myths to the contrary, scientific studies have shown that dust mites prefer synthetic materials and tend to steer relatively clear of natural fillers. The Dryer: Your Secret Weapon There is one thing that is absolutely proven to kill dust mites and their eggs. This secret weapon is your household clothes dryer at its highest setting. When you invest in fully washable bedding and clothing, you reduce the chances of dust mite infestation. Dryer temperatures of 200°F or higher will annihilate dust mites in a matter of minutes. A related strategy to discourage dust mites is keeping the humidity of your home below 50% whenever possible. Dehumidifiers are very helpful in many home situations. Remember that mites love warm, moist air, but they hate hot, dry air. Help for Allergic Reactions If you’re still suffering from breathing difficulties or allergic reactions, there are steps you can take to make yourself more comfortable. A personal air purifier can be placed by your bed or desk, creating a friendly microclimate free of dust mite allergens. Some people find a program of gradual desensitization to be useful in cutting down allergy symptoms. Other people use antihistamines or steroids to manage their reactions. You can consult with your doctor for more information on these various alternatives. Keep in mind: Dust mites are an unpleasant, but an all too common part of human civilization. Although it is hard to wipe them out entirely, there are many resources available to fight them. With a little planning and strategy, you can avoid much of the discomfort caused by mite infestations, as well as the potentially dangerous health complications that sometimes come along with them.