December 16, 2015

Clean-up and Prevention of Dust Mites at Home

Author: Mary Morris, MD, ABIM

Talking about dust mites can give many people the creeps…yet, dust mites do not bite or live on people, they are just part of our living spaceTalking about dust mites can give many people the creeps…yet, dust mites do not bite or live on people, they are just part of our living space. Having great physician care and sublingual treatment of dust mite allergies along with clean-up and prevention can be the key to controlling dust mite allergies.

Having dust mites is not a sign of poor housekeeping; rather it is a fact of life. Everyone has them and thwarting the life and life cycle of the dust mite is paramount for allergic patients. Let’s start with the basics of how to control dust mites

Bedroom and bed

  • Reduce organic materials from your bed and bedroom (feather-pillows, feather beds, wool and silk blankets and sheets, animal skins, etc.). If that’s not an option, encase pillows in an allergen barrier cover, or consider buying pillows with allergen barrier fabric.
  • Wash all bedspreads, blankets and sheets regularly, about once every two weeks in HOT water. Dry clean bedding if washing isn’t possible. You can also look for synthetic bedding with allergen barrier fabrics to reduce dust mite exposure.
  • Encase your mattress in an allergen barrier cover.
  • If possible, remove old carpet and replace with tile, vinyl, cement or wood type floors that are wipeable.
  • Keep clothing hung in a closet or folded in a drawer help to reduce places for the mites to live.
  • Control humidity to no more than 50% and no less than 30%.
  • Allergic persons should always be in the top bunk.

House

  • If possible, remove carpets and padding and replace with vinyl, tile or hardwood if badly infested. Old fashioned rug beating or cleaning helps to reduce shed skin cells and mites.
  • Regularly vacuum carpets, furniture and upholstery with a vacuum cleaner with HEPA filters or an in-home central vacuum.
  • Reducing upholstered furniture in bedrooms can be helpful.
  • Control humidity to no greater than 50% and no less than 30%. Air conditioners help to control humidity and temperature in the warmer months.
  • Use an exhaust fan in showers to keep the moisture down.
  • If you have pets, keep them and their beds washed as well. Choose rubber or washable toys.
  • You can use mite killers (a number of powders and sprays are available) on mite-infested materials; reapply occasionally per manufacturers’ directions.

Following these tips, and pairing them with sublingual immunotherapy to help build tolerance to mites, can help make your mite-allergic person feel better, breathe easier and have less skin involvement with these little critters long term.

References:

  1. Treating Conditions: Asthma. Allergy Associates of La Crosse. http://lacrosseallergy.com/why-the-la-crosse-method/treating-allergy-conditions/asthma/
  2. House Dust Allergy. America College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. http://acaai.org/allergies/types/dust-allergy
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