Monday, April 25, 2011

Dust Mites

If you have someone in your family that is allergic to dust mites you know what they are.  For those who don't dust mites are microscopic bugs that feed on shed human skin.  Dust mites actually have 8 legs and not six so they are in the arthropod family.  These "bugs"  thrive in warm humid temperatures.  Which most houses are kept.  They spend their lives eating, reproducing, and defecating.  Their waste is what causes the allergies.  Household dust has many components.  It has dander from pet dogs or cats, bacteria, food, plant and insect parts, mold and fungus spores, tiny fibers from different kinds of fabric, and many microscopic mites and their waste products.  
Dust mites can live in anything that contains shed skin.  This could be carpet, clothing, blankets, stuffed animals, furniture, and beds.  Although it is almost impossible to completely eliminate dust mites from your house, you can do things to keep the level down.  Dust mites can't take extreme temperatures.  I like to freeze mine.  My son is allergic to dust mites.  He also loves stuffed animals.  I have learned to wash the ones that I can and put the rest in my freezer.  We have a stand up freezer in the basement.  I put all the stuffed animals that don't fit in the washing machine, and will get ruined if washed, in the freezer.   I also put my son's pillow in the freezer too.  Some hats that could get ruined by washing go in the freezer. 
I decided when my son was diagnosed with all his allergies that he would have a normal life despite his allergies.  So when it was suggested to us to get rid of all our carpet, stuffed animals, and cover everything in plastic we opted not to.  I try my best to wash his bedding once a week.  I also vacuum his mattress.  I used to put a plastic cover on his mattress to keep dust mites out but I found this caused him to have more allergic reactions.  Because of his eczema and severe dry skin, the mattress cover was just filled with skin flakes.  All that skin was just loaded with dust mites right under his sheets.  Once I took it off the plastic cover and started just vacuuming his mattress he had less breakouts from dust mites.  Vacuuming does not get rid of all the dust mites but it helps get rid of a lot of the skin  that is in the mattress.  Many allergists suggest to buy dust covers for your pillows and mattresses.  These work well, we just opted not to do so.  My son breaks out from the dust mites where most people have a nasal reaction to them. 
Another thing that I do often is store winter hats, gloves, and scarves in resealable plastic bags.  I wash all of these items at the end of the winter season and put them into the plastic bags.  That way if we have one of those cold fall days that we need hats and gloves I don't have to rewash everything first.  I just get it right out of the bag and it is washed and dust mite free!!!  I learned to do this after pulling out hats that were full of dust only to have my sons face turn completely red and start itching like crazy!!
One way to keep the dust mite level down in your house is to keep the dust out.  Being a busy mom and home schooling my kids this doesn't always happen as often as I would like.  But keeping your house dust free helps keep the dust mite level down.  Also if you have carpet in the house to vacuum frequently.  Not all the dust mite and dust mite waste will be swept up, but it helps.  If you have curtains wash them frequently.  If you have blinds keep them clean.  There are a lot of products out there that claim to kill dust mites in your carpet.  I have not used any of them so I can't tell you how well they work.  Because of my sons other allergies I try not to use a lot of chemical things in the house. 
By removing the dust from your house and keeping the humidity at around 50%  you will help keep the dust mite level in your home low.  It may take a lot of work but it is better than living in Antarctica.  Which is the only continent in the world that dust mites don't live!!

1 comment:

Mary said...

You should see the layers of dust in our house. Yuck!!!