Four allergist-approved ways to get rid of dust mites

You can’t see them but if you are allergic to dust mites, these little bugs can really wreak havoc. There are many ways to control it and reduce your sensitivity. As compiled from Reader’s DigestHere’s what you can do.

What is dust mites?

Dust mites are about a quarter to a third of a millimeter in size. Under the microscope, they look like white eight-legged insects. And although they don’t bite, they eat dead human skin cells.

Where do dust mites live?

These pesky insects make themselves comfortable in bedding, mattresses, upholstered furniture, rugs, curtains, and even stuffed toys. They thrive in high temperatures and prefer moisture. Since they do not drink water, they absorb moisture from the air.
Dust mites begin in the form of eggs and develop into an adult for more than a month, provided the temperature and humidity level is just right. They can live for up to two months and a female dust mite lays about 100 eggs during her lifetime.
But geography makes a difference. If you live somewhere high, dry and cool, there will be fewer dust mites.

What are the symptoms?

“Dust mites cause allergies by inhaling their microscopic feces and dead body parts, which are allergens,” explains Nita Ogden, MD, an allergist and immunologist in New Jersey and a spokeswoman for the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. This can lead to a more chronic allergic picture. Year-round nasal congestion is a classic for dust mite allergy.”

Itchy and irritated skin is also associated with dust mite allergy. Other symptoms can include sneezing and/or wheezing, and itchy eyes and/or coughing. Dust mite allergy may also cause or exacerbate asthma. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain or tightness, and difficulty speaking. It can lead to a severe asthma attack.

Dust mite allergy treatment

Since you can’t completely get rid of dust mites, treating the symptoms will help reduce some of the misery. Immunotherapy or allergy shots can help. Other treatments target symptoms: If you’re sniffing or sneezing, take an over-the-counter antihistamine. If you feel itchy in your eyes, drops are available.

How to get rid of dust mites

“Dust mites are an inevitable part of our homes. But you can take steps to reduce exposure and reduce symptoms,” says Dr. Ogden. It starts with closing off access to their favorite hiding places.

Get dust mite-proof covers

Invest in mattress covers and pillows that are specifically designed to keep dust mites out. 2018 study in Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: in practice I found that finely woven fabrics prevent dust mites.

Use hot water

When it’s time to wash your bedding, use hot water once a week to kill remaining dust mite particles,” advises Dr. Ogden. You can do the same for cuddly stuffed animals. And if the toy is too precious to wash, put it in a plastic bag. Freeze for 24 hours as this will also kill dust mites.

Choose a different decor

Consider getting rid of carpeting and opting for hardwood floors or rugs instead. It can be better cleaned or washed regularly. It’s also a good idea to skip fabric blinds and headboards, which can harbor moths. Instead, choose curtains and furniture that you can wipe down.

Get a HEPA filter

High-efficiency air (HEPA) filters can help keep dust mites and other allergens out of the air, says Karen Pacheco, MD, an allergist and associate professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at National Jewish Health in Denver.
Dr. Ogden suggests vacuuming regularly with a HEPA-certified vacuum cleaner so that dust and allergens remain in the vacuum.

Oh, and if you can pass the cleaning task on to someone who isn’t allergic to dust mites, go for it!

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