House dust mites are microscopic bugs; they live off human skin scales and thrive in humid climates. The dust mite is harmless to most people unless they suffer from asthma or allergies. It’s not the dust mite that causes allergic reactions but the droppings they leave behind. Each mite produces about 20 of these waste droppings every day and the droppings continue to cause allergic symptoms even after the mite has died. Dust mites do not bite or sting but harbour strong allergens in their bodies as well as in their secretions, excreta and shed skins. Constant contact with these allergens can trigger respiratory and dermatological complaints in some humans.
Skin cells and scales, commonly called dander, are often concentrated in lounges, chairs, mattresses, pillows, household furniture and carpeted areas, which often harbor large numbers of these microscopic dust mites. Since the average human shed approx 10 grams of dead skin a week, it gives the dust mites a lot to eat. Cats and dogs create far more dander for dust mites to eat.
A typical mattress can contain tens of thousands of dust mites. Sick yet? Nearly 100,000 mites can live in one square yard of carpet.
Where do Dust Mites live?
One of the main area dust mites live in are your beds and bedding, where you spend 1/3 of your life. Your mattress may have anywhere from 100,000 to 10 million mites inside. Ten percent of the weight of a two year old pillow can be composed of dead mites and their droppings.
The favourite food for the dust mite is dander (both human and animal skin flakes). We shed about 1/5 ounce of dander (dead skin) each week. About 80% of the material seen floating in a sunbeam is actually skin flakes. Carpeting and household furniture support high dust mite populations. Most homes cater to dust mites, as we give them plenty of food and we also provide just the right temperature, between 18C and 26C. Dust mites also love high humidity, since these temperatures favour the mould that breaks down the dust mite’s food (human skin).
Your mattress and pillows are like big bellows. Every time we move on the bed a puff of dust is dispersed into your eyes and nose, which can cause problems with people with asthma and allergies. Remember a typical double bed can contain 3-5 million dust mites; this can actually double the weight of the mattress in ten years!
Some Symptoms to Dust Mites
- Runny nose
- Itchy, red or watery eyes
- Nasal congestion
- Itchy nose, roof of mouth or throat
- Facial pressure and pain
- Frequent awakening
- Difficulty breathing
- Whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling
Featured Image by Gilles San Martin