Saturday, February 03, 2007

House dust mites

What is house dust?

Obviously the answer depends on where you live and the season of the year. In general, however, house dust is composed of ash, cloth fibers, hair, plant pollen, human and animal skin, soil particles, and fungal spores. In many households, human skin flakes make up much of this flying debris. On average, an adult sheds about 1/2oz of skin every day!

What are house dust mites?

House dust mites are tiny, nearly microscopic mites that feed on the organic parts of house dust.
The mites live in fabric and bedding and for many people go completely unnoticed. For some people however dust mites can cause moderate to severe allergy.

The allergy is caused by bits of the mites themselves that become airborne, and mite feces. What goes into dust mites as a flake of skin and hair comes out the other end as an allergen that can stuff up your nose, launch a severe allergic reaction or even trigger asthma. House dust mites are not the only source of allergen in our indoor environment but they may be one of the most important.

Dust mites take about 1 month to develop from egg to adult under ideal conditions. Growth occurs between 50 and 90 degrees F. and they require fairly high relative humidity (60-90%). This need for moisture is why dust mites tend to be more numerous in the spring and fall when indoor humidity is a little higher. Winter heating dries out houses and therefore reduces dust mite numbers. House dust mites do not bite or otherwise cause harm.

Control exposure to allergen and treat the allergy

If you are not bothered by dust mite allergy then there's no need to do anything. However, if allergies are a problem there are two things you can do that might help. First, try to limit your exposure to allergen by removing as much fabric from your living space, especially the bedroom. Use mattress and pillow covers to place a barrier between you and allergen contained in bedding. Second, medically treat the allergy (see your allergist or other health care provider).

Do not try to control house dust mites with insecticides! This will only make matters worse because allergies can make your body more sensitive to the irritation of insecticide exposure.

Use the link below for more information about house dust mites and ways to deal with the allergies they can cause.

No comments: