If we were to ask you to name the most prevalent causes of skin allergies, you would probably say medication, food, cosmetic products or household cleaners and you would be right. To a degree! One of the major sources of skin allergies and rashes is actually found everywhere in your home and you are not even aware of it. They are called dust mites; and they are microscopic bugs which belong to the spider family that live off dust and dead skin cells that people shed every day. They are also known to cause 50% of allergic symptoms.
The adverse reactions caused by these pests range from sneezing, itching, wheezing, red / watery eyes and runny nose to congestion, hay fever, asthma, eczema, and allergic rhinitis. And the worst thing is that people are not allergic to the mites themselves, but actually to their decaying bodies, secretions and feces. There is more bad news - each dust mite (and there are literally millions of them in your linen, mattresses, pillows, carpets, upholstered furniture, soft toys) produces around 20 fecal droppings every day which cause allergies and respiratory problems even after the mites die. A study has shown that over 45% of homes have very high dust mite levels while 23% have bedding with a very high allergen concentration which can trigger severe asthma attacks. Also, the average bed contains approximately 10 million dust mites.
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Killing all dust mites in your home is mission impossible but you can drastically reduce their number and thus the risk of developing the mentioned health problems. Regular and thorough house hygiene is the key here, and in particular the following steps;
- Dust as frequently as you can with a damp cloth or a mop. More dust there is in your home, more dust mites will breed. Also, eliminate clutter as much as possible.
- Vacuum floors regularly with a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter. These filters trap dust mites and prevent them from re-circulating into your home. If you suffer from respiratory problems, it would be wise to let someone else do this for you.
- If you can, opt for wood flooring instead of carpets and blinds instead of heavy curtains.
- Regularly clean your air vents and change air filters.
- Invest in mite-proof linen (pillow cases and sheets) and wash them regularly in water hotter than 55 degrees Celsius or 131 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, wash or dry clean blankets and duvet covers every two months. Alternatively, if you are washing your linen in water which is colder, add eucalyptus or tea tree oil into your detergent. According to a study conducted by the University of Sydney, eucalyptus essential oil is one of the most powerful natural remedies for dust mites.
- Dust mites love warm and humid places so make sure that the humidity in your house is below 50%. Interestingly enough, dust mites are not found in dry climates.
Whether you choose to hire a professional to help you with eliminating dust mites or you decide to tackle the problem yourself, the good news is that they are controllable as long as you are eradicating them on a regular basis.