Dust Mite Allergy
House dust contains tiny pieces of fabric, dander, plant matter and creatures so small that they can not be seen by the human eye. These tiny creatures are called house dust mites. Dust mites are present in all homes, no matter how clean. They do not live on humans but live in bedding, upholstered furniture, carpet and stuffed toys. They live in warm, humid places and feed on dead skin cells that fall off of the human body. If dust mite particles are inhaled or come in contact with the skin of a person who is allergic, they may cause runny nose, itchy eyes, cough, wheezing and skin itching.
Dust Mite Control
The best way to control reactions to dust mites is to not be exposed. Unfortunately, it is hard not to come in contact with them. It is possible to reduce the amount of exposure by making certain changes, especially in the bedroom.
Controlling Dust Mites
• Enclose mattresses, box springs and pillows in zippered, dust mite proof
covers. The cover label should list protection against dust mite allergens. The
fabric weave will be 2-10 microns, though this is not always listed.
• Wash sheets and pillow cases weekly in hot water and dry in a hot dryer.
• Wash blankets and stuffed toys twice a month in hot water and dry in hot
• Humidity level in the home should be less than 50%. Use a dehumidifier or
air conditioner if needed. An inexpensive hygrometer can be purchased at
any hardware store to keep track of humidity in the home.
• Wood or vinyl floors are better than carpet.
• If you have carpet, vacuum weekly, using a high efficiency filter bag.
• If a dust mite allergic person has to do the vacuuming, a mask should be
• Stuffed animals should be washable in hot water.
• Limit clutter in the bedroom.
• All dusting should be done with a damp cloth.
• Use window blinds that can be wiped down, rather than curtains.
Dust Mite Facts
• Dust mites live where people spend most of their time--in bed or on favorite
• Dust mites need to feed to stay alive.
• Dust mites live in warm, humid places.
• Dust mites do not live in air ducts in homes. Duct cleaning will not reduce
numbers of dust mites. Filters on the heating/cooling systems or the vents
will not control dust mites.
• Cleaning is helpful to reduce the amount of dust but will not change the
source or numbers of dust mites.
• Chemicals and sprays are not needed and will not have a lasting effect on the
numbers of dust mites.
Some sources of mattress/pillow covers:
• Kohl’s Department Store
• Bed, Bath and Beyond
• Online-- www.NationalAllergy.com
More information about dust mites may be found on-line at:
Spanish version is #6332
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 08/27/2013
Copyright © 08/21/2013 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6180
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