You may have heard of dust mites, but you might not know much about them. Dust mites are microscopic bugs. They can live in mattresses, upholstered furniture, carpeting, curtains, bedding, or wherever dust and debris may gather. Many people wonder if dust mites bite and let us put you at ease—they do not bite. However, your allergy symptoms can be aggravated by dust mites.
What Are Dust Mites?
Dust mites are microscopic pests that can live in several parts of your home. They live off of indoor dust, a collection of various detritus and debris from our daily lives. Dust mites are considerably small. They can be from 1/4 to 1/3 millimeters long, which means you can only see them under a microscope.
It's important to note that dust mites aren't the same as bedbugs, which bite humans.
Where Do Dust Mites Live?
Dust mites thrive in humid climates since they can absorb water from humidity. If your home is susceptible to high humidity or mildew, it can create an ideal environment for dust mites. Male dust mites live for approximately a month, while females can live for about 90 days.
Unfortunately, it's not possible to eliminate dust mites. They are a natural part of indoor living. But you can reduce the number of dust mites in your house through regular dusting and deep cleaning.
What Happens If You Have an Allergic Reaction to Dust Mites?
You may not even notice you've encountered dust mites unless you are experiencing an allergic reaction. It is common to have an allergy to indoor dust mites. Dust mites are considered one of the most common triggers for allergies and asthma, and approximately 20 million Americans suffer from dust mite allergies. The most obvious sign you are experiencing an allergic reaction to dust mites is having red rashes on your skin.
An allergic reaction is when your immune system reacts with a defense response to an allergen—like pollen, dust mites, mold, and pet dander. A chemical called histamine is released by the body in response to the allergen. Histamine is released to help get the allergen out of the body through allergy symptoms like sneezing, watery eyes, or a runny nose.
Typically, these symptoms don't last long, but if you are exposed to dust allergens all the time your allergy symptoms will persist. Some people are more likely to develop dust mite allergies, particularly those who:
- Have A Family History of Allergies: If any members of your family have allergies, you are more likely to develop allergies and, in particular, sensitivity to dust mites. If none of your family members have allergies, your likelihood of developing an allergic reaction to dust mites is lower, but not zero.
- Have Constant Exposure: As with any other allergens, your risk of developing dust mite-related allergic symptoms increases if you are continually exposed to dust and dust mites.
What Are Dust Mite Allergy Symptoms?
Indoor allergy symptoms from dust mites can include:
- Runny nose
- Itchy or watery eyes
- Severe asthma attack
- Itchy or red skin
- Skin rashes
- Itchy throat
There are ways to manage and treat dust mite allergies, including allergy medication, regular deep cleaning of your house, and using dehumidifiers to reduce the growth of indoor allergens in your space.
How Can a Dust Mite Allergy Affect Your Health?
While dust mites can cause allergic reactions in a wide range of people, they can cause severe problems for those with asthma. Ongoing exposure to dust mites can trigger allergic reactions, and for people with asthma, that can lead to chest tightness, chest congestion, or in severe cases, asthma attacks.
How Can You Get Rid Of Dust Mites?
Dust mites thrive in dusty spaces with high humidity. The number one thing you can do to reduce the prevalence of dust mites in your home is to clean and dust regularly. Here are some other ways to naturally get rid of dust mites in your house.
Deep Clean & Wash Bedding
Dust mites hide in nooks and crannies. Regular deep cleaning will prevent their spread. Additionally, to reduce the number of dust mites in your bed, wash your bedding in hot water (at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit) once a week. You can also put your pillows and blankets in the freezer for 24 hours to kill any lurking dust mites. Another tip is to encase your bedding, pillows, and mattresses in hypoallergenic dust mite covers, which will prevent the spread of dust mites and other allergens to your skin and airways during sleep.
Get Rid of Dust
One of the best ways to get rid of dust mite allergies is by deep cleaning your home regularly. If any areas in your home are prone to collecting dust, make sure to declutter those areas and clean them whenever possible. If you have stuffed toys, wash them regularly and store them away from your bed. Additionally, ensure that your deep cleaning includes cleaning rugs and carpets. And be sure to dust your home with a damp rag.
Use a Vacuum Cleaner
An excellent way to get rid of dust is to vacuum regularly. Make sure the vacuum you use has a HEPA filter. These filters remove 99.97% of all particles that pass through them, increasing the efficacy of removing dust and dust mites from your home. Regular vacuuming and mopping also remove pollen, dust mites, and other allergens from your floors, carpets, and furniture.
Dust mites live in high-humidity environments. One of the easiest ways to improve dust mite allergy symptoms is to buy a dehumidifier for your home and reduce indoor humidity to between 40% and 60%. Dust mites can thrive when humidity levels are higher.
How Can You Treat Dust Mite Allergies?
There are several ways you can treat a dust mite allergy, and you can choose one according to your needs and allergy symptoms. The most popular treatment methods include:
If your primary allergy reaction is a stuffy nose, sinus headaches, or postnasal drip, you can use over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription decongestants. These will help you break up the mucus in your nose and provide short-term relief from your symptoms.
Over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines, like Zyrtec or Claritin, block the release of histamine. You can also use OTC nasal steroid sprays like Flonase or Nasacort, which reduce inflammation in the nose. Both types of medications are available without a prescription and can be used to temporarily manage dust mite symptoms.
Prescription Allergy Medications
If your symptoms are severe, you can try prescription allergy medications to manage your allergy symptoms. Some of the most common prescription allergy medications include nasal corticosteroids and oral leukotriene receptor antagonists, but they often don’t treat allergies at the root cause but focus on alleviating symptoms.
If you have tried OTC medications and still have dust mite allergy symptoms, it might be time for a long-term solution, like immunotherapy. There are two forms of allergy immunotherapy currently available in the US: subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT), also known as allergy shots, and sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), sometimes referred to as allergy drops or SLIT tablets.
Sublingual immunotherapy involves exposing your body to small doses of the allergens that cause your symptoms. Over time, you become desensitized to the allergens. Once desensitized, your body will stop reacting to dust mites. Sublingual immunotherapy is a convenient and effective way to get long-term allergy relief. It is also safe for adults and children five and up!
Can Dust Mite Allergies Be Treated?
Yes, dust mite allergies can be treated. While you can minimize your exposure to dust mites with cleaning, with OTC antihistamines, you will never be 100% free of your allergies. Sublingual immunotherapy will provide the most long-lasting relief if you are experiencing severe allergic symptoms to dust mites.
How Does Wyndly Treat Dust Mite Allergies?
If you are looking for a long-term solution to your dust mite allergies, sublingual immunotherapy could be for you. Wyndly makes it easy and delivers under-the-tongue allergy drops or tablets that you can take from the comfort of your home instead of at the doctor's office.
First, we'll send you a home-allergy test, which will help you pinpoint your allergy triggers, like dust mites. Next, you'll have a virtual appointment with one of Wyndly's physicians to review your results and get a personalized treatment plan for your particular allergen triggers. Lastly, Wyndly will send you your treatment straight to your door.
Take Our Allergy Assessment
If you want to get rid of your allergy to dust mites, choose Wyndly. Our allergy doctors will work with you to create a treatment plan that works for your allergies and gets you long-term relief from your symptoms. Take our quick online assessment to see if Wyndly is right for you!