Dust Mites are microscopic animals related to other mites, and ticks, in the class Arachnida, which also includes spiders, scorpions, harvestmen (daddy-longlegs), and similar eight-legged creatures. Classification of mites is always changing, but dust mites are currently placed in the order Astigmata, family Pyroglyphidae, and genusDermatophagoides (translates to “skin-eater”). The two most common species are:
- North American house dust mite, Dermatophagoides farinae
- European house dust mite, Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus
They both occur where human beings live, and where the humidity is optimal for their life cycle. Dust mites are known for causing allergies in millions of Americans.
Mite or Insect?
Mites in general can be distinguished from insects by a lack of wings and antennae, and by having eight legs (though larval mites may have only six legs).
Mite or Spider?
Mites can be separated from spiders by the fact that mites have only one recognizable body segment, as opposed to the two body regions spiders have.
Size and Numbers
One of the barriers to the identification of house dust mites is their literal invisibility. Even the adult mites cannot be detected with the naked eye. They measure a mere 1/100th of an inch, or:
- 250-300 microns
- one-fourth to one-third of a millimeter
The larvae and nymphs are even smaller. It takes a powerful microscope to see them, something the average person does not have ready access to.
What dust mites lack in size they make up for in sheer numbers. Densities of dust mites in the typical used mattress can range from 100,000 to ten million individual mites.
What Dust Mites Eat
House dust mites feed and grow almost exclusively on the dead, shed skin cells that we humans shed daily by the hundreds of thousands.
Where Dust Mites Are Found
While your bed is the chief place the majority of dust mites reside, the mites can also survive in pillows, overstuffed furniture, even rugs and carpeting. The place where your pet sleeps is also a hot spot since your pets shed skin cells (dander), too!
"ACHOO!" ALLERGIES DUE TO DUST MITES
Someone who is allergic to dust is in fact allergic to one or more substances that occur in dust. The content of dust varies considerably depending on the situation in which it accumulates. Dust in grain storage facilities, factories, mines, bakeries, and construction sites can all present hazards to our respiratory systems, and occupational ailments due to dust are common. House dust can produce a variety of allergens, but dust mites, cockroaches, and cat dander far exceed all others in terms of severity and occurrence. Special dust mite proof covers bring relief to allergy sufferers.
Where Are They?
Dust mites are found globally, but are not at all abundant in drier climates and at higher elevations. Consequently, the regions where dust mite allergies are most common and severe are in humid areas such as the southeast United States, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and England. Other factors that impact dust mite allergies are the construction of homes, and how much time people spend inside them.
How Bad Is It?
Dust mite allergies far exceed other indoor allergies in severity for two reasons. 1. They exist independent of human lifestyle and socio-economic class. 2. The allergens produced by dust mites have been linked conclusively to the development of asthma and the aggravation of symptoms in people who already have asthma. Cockroach allergens exceed dust mite allergens in slums, ghettos, tenements, and other crowded, substandard housing conditions. Cat dander allergens are the most potent indoor allergens, yet cause relatively weak reactions, often limited to a stuffy nose, sneezing, and watery eyes.
Dust Mites Love New Construction!
Energy conservation strategies in the 1970s led to improvements in insulation, sealed windows, and other developments that reduced air circulation and ventilation in many cases. This allowed humidity to increase, if even ever so slightly, making the indoor environment more hospitable to dust mites. People have also been spending more and more time indoors, increasing their exposure to indoor allergens of all kinds.
Why Are We Allergic to Dust Mites?
Certain substances secreted in the body of dust mites act as allergens when they become airborne, stimulating a hypersensitive immune response in some people, but not everyone. So, allergies in general are due to our own personal immune system going into overdrive and becoming our own worst enemy. The allergic response is a defensive reaction all out of proportion to the actual threat. Your body is going nuclear on what are basically harmless particles.
Dust Mite Droppings
Dust mite droppings called “fecal pellets” are the primary source of dust mite allergens. When they become airborne they are easily inhaled, causing a person to sneeze, itch, or develop asthma.
TREATING YOUR HOME FOR DUST MITES
The bulk of the average home’s dust mite population is in the bed, and persons allergic to dust mites and their allergens come in closest contact with the mites, for the longest period of time each day, while asleep. It seems logical then to make the mattress, box springs, and pillows a priority in the battle against dust mites.
Encasements for Mattresses, Box Springs and Pillows
Hypoallergenic dust mite covers for create impermeable barriers between sleeping allergy patients and dust mites and their allergens. They literally let you breathe easier. In fact, a Danish study revealed that simply encasing mattresses and pillows of child asthma patients substantially relieved their symptoms. After one year the children were using half as much of their steroid inhalers and showing better peak-flow readings in exhalation tests.
What is a Pillow Protector?
A pillow protector is a zippered closure cover that is placed over the pillow before the pillow is inserted into the pillow case. Using a quality pillow protector will keep your pillow clean and fresh considerably longer, and will prevent dust mites from infesting your pillow. Dust mites are a leading producer of allergens in many homes. We recommend washing the pillow protectors on a regular basis. When you remove the pillow protector, you also allow your pillow to "breathe" and re-loft.
All of our pillow protectors are anti-allergy and dust-mite proof and are shipped FREE with every pillow purchase!
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