Dust mites are everywhere. You can’t get rid of them. They live in our beds, our curtains, our carpet, and any place that collects dead skin or dust. Even though it’s impossible to get rid of dust mites, you can keep them down in your home with some perseverance and know-how.
Dust Mite Basics
I recently was allergy tested and had a major allergy to dust mites. But what exactly are they? What do they do? Why do we have them in our homes?
The Mayo Clinic gives some good information on dust mites:
Dust mites, close relatives of ticks and spiders, are too small to see without a microscope. Dust mites eat skin cells shed by people, and they thrive in warm, humid environments. In most homes, such items as bedding, upholstered furniture and carpeting provide an ideal environment for dust mites.
How to know if you have an allergy
You won’t know for certain about what you are allergic to unless you get allergy tested. But there are some signs. I know for me, when I sweep up dirt, within 10 minutes, my eyes turn red and puffy. The next day I look like an old lady. My skin starts flaking and it takes a good week for my allergies to disappear. Zyrtec and Benadryl help, but I’m left suffering if I come into contact with dust mites.
My symptoms may look different than other people’s. I don’t have asthma or coughing. Most of mine are skin related. Here’s what you might notice:
- Runny nose
- Itchy, red or watery eyes
- Nasal congestion
- Itchy nose, in the roof of mouth or throat
- Postnasal drip
- Facial pressure and pain
- Swollen, blue-colored skin under your eyes
- In a child, frequent upward rubbing of the nose
(Credit: Mayo Clinic)
Getting Allergies Under Control
You might want to visit an allergist if you are experiencing the above symptoms. My allergist is having me take Zyrtec, 2 pills twice a day. If it’s really bad, I can take it 3 times a day. That seems like a lot of Zyrtec, but when you have hives or any kind of bad reaction, it’s going to relieve your symptoms. It’s best to just be on a maintenance dose so you don’t have to take so much of it. But for now, I’m building it up in my system since I’m still reacting.
I also take Benadryl at night if I’m itchy. I use prescription eye drops and Flonase to keep down the particles that go end up in my nose and eyes. Using an eyewash also helps.
Killing Dust Mites with Cleaning
The best way to keep your allergies down is to keep your house clean. How can you do that when you can’t be around dust mites?
It’s not easy, but it can be done. Here are some tips that have worked for me:
- Ask someone else in the family to vacuum and sweep up any dust, especially in your bedroom.
- Use an air purifier in your sleeping area to keep the room cool and dust-free.
- Wash your bedding 1-2 times a week in really hot water to kill the dust mites.
- Keep your animals off your beds and couches. Their dead skin cells attract the nasty bugs.
- Don’t keep stuffed animals, knick-knacks, or any items that collect dust in your bedroom.
- Use special pillowcases and sheets to keep down the dust mites on your bed. Also, consider vacuuming your mattress from time to time to get rid of dead skin cells.
- If you have to clean up dust, use a mask and eyewear. Shower before bed to get the dust off your body.
- Use essential oils like geranium in a diffuser. You could also use a spray bottle and add witch hazel, water, and several drops of EO. Spray on carpet and bedding to keep down the dust mite population. Read this post for ideas on how to use EO’s for yourself and to kill dust mites.
- Consider removing your carpet and installing hardwood floors. Dust mites can embed themselves in your carpet, making your allergies even worse.
- If you have a bed that is older than 5 years, replace it with a new one. Dust mites will burrow into your mattress making it impossible to kill them.
You can’t completely get rid of dust mites, which is bad news if you have an allergy. The good news is that you can reduce the population by using cleaning methods, essential oils, and decluttering your home.
As an allergy sufferer myself, I know it’s overwhelming to have another to-do list. If your home is already really cluttered and unmanageable, you will struggle to free yourself from dust mites. The best thing you can do is start with small steps to remove the excess in your home. It will take some time to start feeling healthy again, but with daily effort, you can get better.