Dust mite avoidance
Dust mites are microscopic insects found in soft furnishings in the home. Dust mite allergens are the feces and body fragments that are tiny particles which can become airborne and inhaled when dust is disturbed.
Patients who are allergic to the dust mite allergen may develop rhinitis (hay fever symptoms), asthma or eczema. It has been demonstrated that reduction of the amount of dust mite allergen in the home environment results in an improvement in these conditions.
Unfortunately it is impossible to completely remove dust mites from any household, the best alternative is a combination of avoidance and reduction measures:
Covering of bedding items with impermeable covers - available at pharmacies and online - some health funds may provide a rebate. These covers should be washed every 2 months.
Wash the sheets and blankets in hot water (>55C) every 1-2 weeks. Wool blankets and doonas are not recommended. Hot water will kill dust mites and remove the allergen they produce. However, if you cannot wash in hot water, the use of a commercial product containing essential oils such as tea tree or eucalyptus oils can also kill dust mites in cold water. Dry cleaning is not as effective as it may kill dust mites, but not remove the allergen.
Removal of carpet and rugs. Avoidance of woollen fabrics/rugs and feathered bedding and opt for synthetic alternatives
Removal of soft toys and other textiled items.
Vacuum carpets weekly - Regular thorough vacuuming is important to reduce the dust mite population. The use of vacuums with a HEPA filter may remove more allergens, however vacuuming does disturb dust and can increase the amount of mite allergen in the air temporarily for approximtely 20 minutes. For patients with extreme symptoms, it may be necessarily to vacate the area until the dust settles.
Dusting furniture with damp cloth as opposed to dry dusting - do this at least 20 minutes before vacuuming to allow the dust to settle on the floor first.
Dust mites thrive under warm temperatures and high humitiy levels - hence reduction of humidity levels in the living areas can help decrease the mite population.
Information on this website has been compiled and written by Allergy Medical Clinic staff and is based on expert opinion and available resources at the time of publishing. All information provided on this website should be considered as general advice only and non-specific to any patients in particular, and not intended to replace proper medical advice and consultation.