For many of us the image of a duster and a can of furniture polish is something that evokes a trip to see a grandparent, or something your parents did before the grandparents came around for various occasions. As our lives have gotten increasingly hectic, it’s easy to forget the dust that can build up on our surfaces but what most of us don’t know is that with the dust come House Dust Mites and a potential allergy.
House Dust What?!?
House Dust Mites are tiny, microscopic creatures that live in our dust. These minute organisms actually feast on the dust, made up mostly of discarded skin cells. They can’t be seen with the naked eye and are, in themselves, entirely harmless to us humans. Like humans, however, when they eat, they produce waste and it is the waste of the house mites that can potentially cause allergic reactions.
I’m allergic to dust?
Not quite. The mites live in, and feast on the dust in our homes but also produce up to 30 times their own body weight in waste, which is what can cause a reaction in some. The reaction is very similar to hay fever in that it can cause itchy runny eyes, a runny and sore nose (or a blocked nose too) and a sore throat and cough.
How do I get rid of them?
Realistically, you can’t. Whatever we do, we produce dust and where there is dust, so there are dust mites. If you are prone to a house mite reaction, however, there are some things you can do to minimise exposure.
House Dust Mites like a nice warm and humid environment in which to feast, produce their waste and procreate and therefore spread. Try taking this away from the mites by making your house a little less hospitable for them; turn the heating down a few notches and try to dehumidify. The mites also like to live in carpets and other soft furnishings including cushions, curtains and, a bit grossly, our beds. By keeping your bed linen well laundered and your soft furnishings clean, you can minimise the risk of a build-up of house mites. You might also consider changing your carpet for hard flooring, such as tile or wood, to take away some of their habitat.
What if I get a reaction?
There are over the counter medications you can by, similar to those who suffer with hay fever. Most of the time, this will ease the symptoms and get you back up and running. If the problems persist, however, or the medications don’t appear to work, you might want to consult your pharmacist or physician for advice.
It’s also important to note again that Dust Mites are not harmful to humans in of themselves, they don’t bite or sting, for example. If you are getting bitten, particularly at night when I bed, you should investigate thoroughly and consult a pest control specialist.