Dust mite allergies are very common and can be the cause of itchy or inflamed skin. This article tells you about dust mite allergy, its symptoms, and what you can do to prevent dust mites from invading your home.
How do you know if you have dust mites and what are they, really?
Dust mites are tiny insects – so small they can’t be seen with the naked eye – found in household dust. They feed on the scales of the skin we shed all day long. Dust mites tend to live in warm, damp areas and particularly love household fabrics: pillows, mattresses, carpets, soft furnishings and cuddly toys. Essentially these little critters are everywhere, so while we often pose the question ‘how do you know if you have dust mites’ in fact everyone does, it’s just that some people are more sensitive to them than others.
Can dust mites cause allergies?
Yes, some people have allergic reactions to dust mites. People who suffer from asthma or eczema are more likely to have these kinds of reactions. Problems are caused when people sensitive to dust mites breathe in a substance contained within their droppings. These substances are extremely small and carried in the air so are very hard not to inhale if there are lots of dust mites in the environment.
Allergic to dust mites: symptoms and treatment
If you wake up covered in itchy, red bumps, you may be allergic to dust mites. Symptoms vary between people and some suffer more than others. However, common indications that you have a dust mite allergy include getting an itchy or running nose, sneezing and sometimes getting sore, itchy eyes. Allergic reactions can also cause worsening of asthma - e.g. more difficulty in breathing – or eczema, nasty patches of red itchy skin. Treatment will vary depending on the symptom, so it’s important to speak to a healthcare professional if you’re at all worried. They might prescribe tablets, creams or inhalers for you to alleviate the symptoms.
How to get rid of dust mites in carpet, upholstering and other household fabrics
As with all allergies, prevention is much better than cure, so if you think you might be suffering from a dust mite allergy there are some easy things you can do around the house to minimise their build-up. Here are some things to try if you think you have dust mites in carpet, dust mites in bed or in other places:
- Open windows or vents after cooking, washing and bathing to stop dampness from spreading
- Avoid drying clothes indoors, especially bedrooms and living rooms (or, if you have to, make sure the space is well-ventilated)
- Remove dust mites from carpets with regular vacuuming
- Air bedding before remaking beds to help prevent dust mites in bed
- Open windows in the bathroom to avoid the build up of damp
- Make the house slightly colder (dust mites prefer warm temperatures)
- Avoid carpet in the home (dust mites in carpet at very common) – opt for floorboards, tiles or linoleum
- Likewise, try to minimise the amount of upholstered furniture and other household fabrics
- Dust regularly, but avoid dry dusting as this simply spreads the particles around – use a damp cloth or vacuum cleaner – this can help alleviate dust mite allergy symptoms
- Use non-allergenic mattresses, duvets and pillows. If you’re prone to allergic reactions, try a gentler laundry detergent like Neutral.
- If you’ve tried the above and are still wondering how to get rid of dust mites in carpet, try buying a vacuum cleaner fitted with a HEPA filter. This stands for ‘high efficiency particulate air’ which simply means it traps more dust mites than ordinary vacuum cleaners.
There are lots of different things you can try when it comes to getting rid of these pesky little house guests. If you have symptoms and are wondering whether you’re allergic to dust mites, you may be right. Don’t suffer in silence, adapt your home and if you’re having reactions see your local health professional for more advice.