Is your home in danger?

Dust mites are more than just a common house-hold nuisance.

What are dust mites?

The house dust mite gets its name from its habitat – household dust. The main component of dust is shed skin flakes, the mite’s preferred food source.

Areas around the home that are heavily used, such as beds and upholstered furniture, will have much higher mite populations than the rest of the house.

The most common dust mite in Australian homes is Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, which tends to prefer coastal rather than inland areas. This mite has been associated with dermatological and respiratory allergies in humans, such as eczema and asthma.

Symptoms of allergic reaction to dust mites

House dust mites can trigger respiratory or dermatological conditions, including asthma and eczema. Symptoms can include:

  1. Wheezing.
  2. Coughing.
  3. Breathlessness.
  4. A tight feeling in the chest.
  5. Runny nose.
  6. Itchy nose.
  7. Itchy, watery eyes.
  8. Itchy skin.
  9. Skin rashes.

Physical characteristics of the house dust mite

The characteristics of a house dust mite include:

  1. Less than half a millimetre in length, which makes it hard to see with the naked eye.
  2. Wingless.
  3. Oval-shaped body.
  4. Light-coloured body with fine stripes.
  5. Life span of around 2 months or so, depending on the conditions.

Allergic reaction to dust mites.

Unlike other common household bugs (fleas, for example), dust mites don’t bite. Their bodies, secretions and faeces contain particular proteins that can trigger allergic symptoms in susceptible people.

Common hiding spots for dust mites

The diet of the house dust mite includes shed skin flakes, pollen and fungal spores. It prefers warm, humid and dark environments.

Common hiding spots around the home include:

  1. Mattresses and bed linen.
  2. Upholstered furniture.
  3. Shag-pile or long-fibred carpets.
  4. Soft toys.

How to reduce the dust mites in your home.

It is impossible to destroy your entire dust mite population, but you can reduce their numbers. Allergic reactions are dose-related, so the fewer dust mites you have in your home, the less you may be troubled by respiratory or dermatological symptoms.

It is important to remember that the droppings of dead dust mites continue to provoke allergic reactions. You must not only reduce your dust mite population but also take steps to remove their dead bodies and faeces from your home.

Wash sheets & pillowcases

Wash sheets and pillowcases weekly in water hotter than 60 °C. Alternatively, if washing in cold water, use a commercial product containing essential oils, such as eucalyptus or tea tree oil.

Hot tumble drying

Hot tumble dry (for half an hour after dry) or dry clean household items – this will kill house dust mites, but not the allergen they produce.

Wash blankets & doonas

Wash blankets and non-encased doonas every 2 months. Use synthetic rather than feather pillows and doonas, as these tolerate regular washing.

Wash stored clothing

Wash clothing before use if it has been stored for a long time.

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