About Dust Mites
What are dust mites?
Dust mites are tiny bugs - not insects per se, but more closely related to spiders and ticks. They measure about 1/100th of an inch in length, which is smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. Due to their very small size, these dust mites are not visible to the naked eye. They live in bedding, couches, carpet, stuffed toys and old clothing. Dust mites feed on the dead skin that falls off the bodies of humans and animals and on other organic material found where they live.
Dust mites love warm, humid areas filled with dust. Bed pillows, mattresses, carpets and furniture are great places for them to live.
How do dust mites affect people?
For most people, while they are disgusting, house dust mites are not actually harmful. However, the medical significance of house dust mites arises because their microscopic cast skins and feces are a major constituent of house dust that induces allergic reactions in some individuals.
For those individuals, inhaling the house dust allergen triggers rhinitis allergica or bronchial asthma. Symptoms are usually respiratory in nature (sneezing, itching, watery eyes, wheezing, etc.) but there are also reports of a red rash around the neck. Other allergic reactions may include headaches, fatigue and depression.
House dust contaminated with the fecal pellets and cast skins of dust mites is one of the most strongly allergenic materials found indoors. Estimates are that dust mites may be a factor in 50 to 80 percent of asthmatics, as well as in countless cases of eczema, hay fever and other allergic ailments.
How do I know if there are dust mites in my home?
House dust mite presence is often suspected before they are actually seen and accurately identified. Usually it happens when somebody in the household experiences any of the above symptoms.
The presence of house dust mites can be confirmed microscopically which requires collecting samples from mattresses, couches or carpets. Also, it requires the use of a microscope with sufficient magnification and the technical ability to recognize house dust mites under the microscope.
There are also diagnostic tests sold and distributed in the U.S. One must collect dust samples and mix a portion of the sample with reagents packed with the test. Then, a dipstick is placed into the mixture, and the color change then compared to a chart packed with the test.