Most homes have dust mites, but they often go unnoticed because they are so small they cannot be seen by the naked eye. However, when dust mites are left long enough, they can cause health problems. This is because dust mites excrete a protein that attacks the respiratory passages and causes allergic reactions in some people. Studies have linked house dust mites to triggering or exacerbating symptoms of asthma, eczema, chronic rhinitis, hay fever, lung inflammations, and immune reactions.
However, there are some simple ways to reduce the amount of dust mites in your home. Dust mites don't like being too cold, too hot or too dry, and they love humid conditions like a snug bed or a cosy carpet. Therefore simple measures like airing your bed, hoovering your mattress and carpets regularly, and opening your windows when you're cooking and cleaning can all help.
Mites thrive on eating our dead skin cells, which we shed around 50 million of these every day. So it's very important to vacuum regularly and keep your house as dust free as possible through regular cleaning. During the summer, you'll be able to get rid of even more of them because they don't like sunlight and they'll get blown away on the breeze if you leave your windows open.
Use bedding that can be washed often, cotton sheets, and synthetic blankets or duvets. Wash bedding etc at a temperature of at least 60°C to kill the house dust mites.
When selecting new carpets either buy short pile carpets or better still buy wooden floors or lino. Also, leather-covered furniture isn't mite-friendly the way cloth upholstery is.
A review of recently published clinical studies found significant health improvements in children with asthma, by taking measures to avoid allergens. This included covering beds and bedding with micro porous material to reduce mite allergen exposure.
Another study found that mite allergens caused itchy, red or watery eyes by breaching the protective barriers of the eye, and thus could cause conjunctivitis.
Dust mites cannot be completely eradicated from the home, but by creating an inhospitable environment for dust mites and reducing the overall dust in our homes, we can reduce the ill effects of these contaminants on our health.