Dust mites – Facts you need to know!
Have you seen a dust mite? Probably not.
But chances are that you or someone in your family has had a dust mite allergy attack. Studies show that at least 10% of the earth’s total population is allergic to the allergens produced by dust mites. Dust mite allergens are one of the main causes of allergies that can cause various respiratory and skin problems.
What are dust mites?
Dust mites are microscopic eight-legged arachnids that feed on dead skin cells or dander, shed from humans and animals. Dust mites measure about 0.25–0.30 mm and cannot be seen with the naked eye.
Dust mites do not bite or carry and transmit diseases, but can cause allergic reactions. They appear to have no eyes and have a mouth in the front and a translucent shell cover.
The life span of a dust mite varies from one to three months. A female dust mite lays around 40 to 80 eggs a month.
Where are dust mites found?
Dust mites live in and around dust particles in areas that are not commonly cleaned or vacuumed. As dust mites live and feed on shed human and animal skin cells, they are mostly found in warm and humid places close to their food source like mattresses, pillows, couches, upholstered furniture, carpets, rugs, and curtains. As the flakes get lodged deep into the inner layers of the mattresses, and other surfaces, these are the places where the dust mites thrive.
A university study reported that a mattress is said to contain anywhere between 100,000 and 10 million mites inside. Once dead, the dust mites along with the dust mite waste gets accumulated on the mattresses, pillows and other surfaces, increasing the weight over the years. A study stated that about 50% weight of a 10-year old mattress can be composed of dead mites and their droppings!
Dust mites and allergies
Dust mites have powerful digestive enzymes that break down the skin and dander as they feed on them. The enzymes are excreted out as dust mite faeces. These enzymes, when airborne, can induce allergic reactions like nasal congestion, runny nose, watery eyes, itching, sneezing and swelling and irritation of the upper respiratory passages.
Dust mites obtain the moisture they need to survive from human respiration and perspiration. In daylight, the dust mites get lodged into the folds of bed sheets and deep within the mattresses.
It is impossible to completely eliminate dust mites, but you could effectively reduce the infestation by regular cleaning.