Dust mite is a microscopic organism. It is the main allergen of year round allergy sufferers. People allergic to it seem to have worsening symptoms of nasal congestion, postnasal drip and sinus infections. Mites live in fabric, not hard surfaces. Heat and humidity encourages the proliferation of the mites. Limiting all fabrics such as carpets, upholstered furniture, stuffed animals and fabric window treatments help limit contact with dust mite. Emphasizing hardwood floors, ceramic floors and linoleum all limit exposure to the mite. Cleaning heating ducts does not do much to limit mite exposure. Air purifiers do not filter out the mites, which tend to infest and inhabit fabric. The following measures have been proven to decrease mite exposure.
Helpful Hints to Reduce Dust Mite:
- Use hypoallergenic, zippered dust mite covers on mattresses, box springs & pillows.
- Wash all bedding, including pillows, in hot water to kill the mites.
- Keep the bedroom clear of clothing, drapes, towels, etc.
- Keep chest drawers and closet doors closed.
- Use air conditioners to lower humidity in warm weather.
- Use specially designed vacuum cleaner bags that trap dust mites rather than let them pass through the bag into the air. A central vacuum is ideal.
- Minimize the use of carpeting in the bedroom. Washable throw rugs are better than wall to wall carpeting or area rugs.
A Word on Carpeting:
Carpets tend to offer a shelter for animal dander, mite, molds, rodent droppings and cockroach particles. Limiting carpeting limits exposure to these potent allergens. Wall to wall carpeting offers the maximum exposure to allergen-laden fabric. In addition, it is usually mass-produced using formaldehyde and other glues that cause chemical sensitivities. When they are hand knotted, there is no formaldehyde or other glues used in the manufacturing process.
The very worse situation is wall to wall carpeting placed over a concrete surface. The concrete maximizes moisture retention, which generates the most dust mite and mold growth. Area rugs cover less floors area and are thereby recommended.
Cleaning rugs with chemicals is preferred to steam cleaning. The latter process introduces moisture into the rug, which tends to generate mold and dust mite growth. A rule of thumb is the less carpeting the better.
A word on Stuffed Animals:
Just like carpet, stuffed animals harbor mite, dust and animals dander worsening the allergy. Children usually love to play and sleep with them, which causes exacerbation of symptoms by allergens exposure. Children with allergy should not play with stuffed animals and if they like to play, it should not be in their bedroom. Worse situation will be sleeping with them because it will cause continuous exposure to this potent allergen for 8-10 hrs during sleep.