What Are House Dust Mites and Can They Complicate Allergies?
They live in your air ducts, your carpet and even your bed, but what are they and do they cause allergies?
Air duct dust mites are microscopic little bugs which live in common house dust. House dust being made up of skin, hair and fecal matter is perfect fodder for dust mites. Dust mites are known in North Americia as Dermatophagoides farinae and sometimes abbreviated by allergists to HDM. These dust mites which live in your bed, carpet and air duct work are considered to be one of the most common causes of asthma worldwide. In their larval stage, dust mites have 6 legs, and in their post larval stage have 8 legs. The average life span of a male house dust mite is approximately 19–30 days. A mated female house dust mite can live of up to two months, laying eggs for the last 30 days of her life.
While the dust mites do not bite or sting. The dust mite generally lives on the dust of shedded human skin cells. Since an average person sheds about 0.3-0.45 kg of skin per year, one person produces enough dead skin to feed nearly a million dust mites. Dust mites in bedding obtain moisture from human breath, perspiration, and saliva.
The dust mite is the most significant sources of household allergens, and is known to complicate allergic asthma, rhinitis, conjunctivitis and dermatitis. DerP1, an important protein responsible for allergic reactions, is an enzyme found in dust mite feces.
Because air ducts are typically low humidity, only a small percentage of house dust mites actually live in air ducts. Air ducts however, are a significant source of dust, hair and fecal matter. A typical heating and cooling system uses a fan to deliver hot and cold air throughout the house. Dust is then re-circulated through the house by means of the air ducts, and can produce additional food sources for the dust mite.
Here are afew steps you can take to control dust mites:
- Regular vacuuming of carpeted areas, ideally using a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA filter
- Regular dusting of surface areas
- Regular cleaning and sanitizing of carpets, upholstery, drapes, bedding and air ducts
- Replacement of carpets with vinyl flooring
- Covering of mattresses and pillows with special allergen proof covers
- Freezing children's plush toys
- Lowering ambient humidity below 70%
While there are no perfect means of completely eradicating dust mites, following thesetes. simple steps will help reduce the number of house dust mites.