Dermatophagoides farinae Hughes

The house dust mite is a microscopic spider-like creature that exists by eating human skin scales and pet dander.  Humans loose about 30 grams of skin per month.  Every day, a dust mite excretes 10 -  20 fecal pellets that contain powerful allergens that can cause allergic reactions such as asthma, eczema, runny eyes and stuffy nose.

Dust mites are the number one source of allergy complaints.  House dust mites are present in more than 90% of American homes.  A gram of house dust (approx. 1/2 teaspoon) contains as many as 1,000 dust mites and 250,000 of their fecal pellets.  Dust mites are equipped with sticky pads on the end of their feet so they are able to burrow deep into carpet fibers and furniture where they resist vacuuming, which is why it's so important to vacuum frequently -- before they bury themselves out of the vacuum's range.

The protein substances in the dust mite feces produces antibodies in humans who are allergic when these are inhaled or touch the skin. These antibodies cause the release of histamines which causes to nasal congestion, swelling and irritation of the upper respiratory passages. The Mayo Clinic, WebMD and NIH collectively provide this list of typical symptoms of an allergy to dust mites.  You may experience some or all of them:
^Hay fever
^Watering eyes
^Runny nose
^Asthma, difficulty in breathing      
^Infantile eczema   
^Facial pressure and pain    
^Swollen, blue-colored skin under your eyes
^In a child, frequent upward rubbing of the nose

A doctor can use skin tests and blood tests to confirm a suspected dust mite allergy.

In the home, house dust allergies are often linked to dust mites.  The highest concentration of dust mite allergen can be found in the mattress and in upholstered furniture.  (Think about how much heavier your mattress is than when you first purchased it. It's not that you've gotten weaker with age ...)  Smaller amounts are on flooring materials.  

The key to preventing allergic reactions is containment of the allergens and keeping allergens from becoming airborne into the breathing zone.  So what are the best methods of "containment"?

»hypoallergenic mattress & pillow covers (impervious to dust mites)
»wash all bedding (pillows, blankets, bedspreads, sheets) a minimum of every 2 weeks in
 very hot water (at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit)
»for non-washable items, put them in the freezer for 24 - 48 hours to kill dust mites
»use all synthetic fabrics instead of natural ones (no wool, no feathers, minimal cotton)
»vacuum all fabric furnishings regularly and have them professionally cleaned at least
 once a year.   Most cushion material, such as foam rubber, is not meant to be subjected
 to a lot of water.  However, having the fabric cleaned frequently will help tremendously.
 Another option is to encase all foam rubber items in a hypoallergenic cover, then place
 back into the fabric covering.
»      Dust mites thrive in warm, humid conditions.  Maintain indoor temperatures at 70° or 
 lower and the humidity level at 50% - 65%.

Sources of Information
Cleaning DigestJanuary / February, 2001
Carpet and Rug Institute's Health Hints
Environment, Health and Safety OnLine (EHSO)
CureZone.Org / Educating Instead of Medicating / Allergies - Prevention & Curing Protocol


Additional Sources of Info Regarding Dust Mites

Environment, Health and Safety OnLine (EHSO)

American College of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology

National Institute of Environmental Health Services

University of Nebraska Lincoln
UNL Extension in Lancaster County, Insects, 
Spiders, Mice  and More

US EPA - Dust mites

Ohio State University


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''In simple terms, an allergy is a hyperactive response of the immune system to certain substances that are 'foreign' to our bodies.  These substances are called allergens and they can range from food and pollen to drugs and dust.  Allergies are something we acquire throughout life and some people are more susceptible than others.  One must have at least one contact with a substance to become sensitive or allergic to it."


Allergic reactions are nothing to sneeze at.  With most people spending a majority of their time indoors, "something in the air" could mean trouble.

One way to cut down on allergies is to install and regularly vacuum carpet, which can help reduce the amount of dust in the air.  The Carpet and Rug Institute offers this advice to allergy sufferers and their families:

Holding Characteristics
In general, allergic reactions are caused by dust and dirt found in the air.  However, airborne particles will ultimately fall to the floor.  Carpet typically holds dust and dirt until it can be removed by vacuuming.  The holding characteristics of carpet, as opposed to a smooth surface floor covering, benefit residents of the home or office by keeping particles of dust from being blown around by foot traffic and air circulation.

To effectively clean carpet, a vacuum cleaner should have good suction, adjustable brushes and an enclosed vacuum bag.  A high-efficiency filtration, disposable bag should be used to minimize the possibility of dust becoming airborne during vacuuming.  High traffic areas should be vacuumed frequently.  To learn more about proper vacuuming techniques, please refer to our page entitled ''Tips For Maintaining Carpet".
^Itchy, red or watery eyes
^Nasal congestion
^Itchy nose, roof of mouth or throat
^Postnasal drip
^Facial pressure and pain
^Frequent awakening
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