If you’ve been diagnosed with a dust mite allergy, one of the first things that come to mind is “What is the best way to manage dust mite allergy?” This is the same thing I thought when I was diagnosed with dust mite allergy in 2013.
I was worried at first because I thought my life was over, however, I was also relieved to know that finally, I knew why I wasn’t feeling well in the mornings and always tired.
In this article, Dust Mite Solutions examines the best management practices for dust mite allergy. I’ll share some basic tips and management practices to follow and I’ll also share my experience with dust mites and my tricks to feel better.
To Manage Dust Mite Allergy, We Must 1st Understand Dust Mites
Dust mites are found in homes all across the world. They do us a huge favor by cleaning up our waste, dead skin. It sounds gross, right? But its true, most of the dust found on your household floors is from you and your skin. We shed skin constantly, so it’s understandable that something recycles our waste.
Dust mites have likely evolved right beside humans without us knowing anything about them. They are microscopic, so they can’t be seen with the naked eye and go about their business quietly. Contrary to popular belief, dust mites don’t bite. Bite marks in bed are likely from bed bugs, a larger insect that you can see and if you have bed bugs you’ve got a big problem – read this article!
In the past century, dust mites have been a focus in medicine because they cause allergic reactions (not only in humans but also pets). Much has been learned about them and the allergy-causing protein they produce. In fact, it’s not the dust mite itself that triggers an allergic response, it’s the protein found in their waste. Strangely, dust mite allergy has spiked in Western countries over the past few decades.
Scientists are working hard to pinpoint why this is happening and they have a few hypotheses ranging from cleanliness that results in the misfiring of our immune system, pollution, and chemical exposure. Although there is a long way to go before they pinpoint why we have allergies, we can do a number of things to better manage the disease. The video below shares how dust mites affect our immune system.
The Best Way to Manage Dust Mite Allergy
Management Tip 1: Cleaning regularly reduces dust mites
As the name suggests, dust mites live in, and eat dust. Corners of the floor, bookshelves, counters, and beds (on top and below) are all common places to find them. Regular cleaning can help reduce dust mite exposure. Dusting and vacuuming should be done on a regular basis.
If possible avoid using a dusting feather and broom. These tools are great for moving dust but they also make dust airborne.
Since dust mites (and fecal matter) are so lightweight, they can stay in the air for hours where we inhale them. Instead, try using tools that are damp. A damp cloth or mop will hold onto dust and keep it from blowing around.
Although most people in the U.S. prefer to clean their home themselves rather than hire an expensive cleaning service, it may be wise to hire some help if you have indoor allergies. After all, good health is worth the cost….and it will keep your home looking good!
Regular washing should also be done for bedding and rugs. Beds are the #1 home for dust mites and the place where most allergy problems are caused (poor sleep, itching, rashes, rhinitis, conjunctivitis). Using essential oil in the laundry will help ensure all dust mites and their larvae are killed. Read our review of essential oils!
Management Tip 2: Reduce carpeting where dust mites hide
Dust mites love carpets because they provide a warm hiding place. Dust accumulates quickly in carpets and is tough to vacuum out. If you have a serious allergy, consider removing carpets and rugs and installing hardwood, tile, or linoleum. A hard surface reduces hiding places and moisture, and makes it easier to clean!
When I was young we had carpeting throughout our home. The carpets were nice and soft, but we had them for over 20 years. We vacuumed on a monthly basis which isn’t enough for people with dust mite allergy.
No wonder I suffered so much when I was young! When my family remodeled the house we ripped up all the old carpets and I was astonished to see so much dirt under the carpets. I think the carpets were 2 times heavier than when they were installed.
Obviously, removing flooring isn’t possible for all people, but being aware of the carpet-allergy connection is important. If you’ve ever hit the carpet and seen dust rise up in the air, then you understand how filthy carpets can be.
A hard surface is easier to clean and in most cases, you don’t even need a vacuum (just a mop!). My family now uses the Swiffer Sweeper (check price) that works great for hard surfaces. We can clean and dust a floor in minutes.
The Swiffer Duster (check price) also works great because it attracts dust and holds onto it. I use it for bookshelves, blinds, leather couches, and counters. I even travel with it sometimes.
Management Tip 3: Purchase Only the Best Dust Mite Proof Bed Covers
Full disclosure, this is my favorite strategy because I use them and I feel better when I sleep. Not only does it keep dust mites and bed bugs from going in/out of your mattresses, blankets, and pillows, it makes your bed much more hygienic.
Dust mite covers on your pillows, blankets, and mattresses might be the most effective thing you can do (Tip: Mission Allergy makes the best covers!). As stated above, most people with dust mite allergy get their symptoms during sleep, and since we spend nearly half our lives in bed, using covers can yield significant improvements.
Dust mite proof covers reduce the need for frequent washing, they also preserve the newness of your pillows, mattresses, and blankets. If you put a mattress cover on a new mattress it will keep it looking new forever!
There are a number of covers on the market, but quality covers use tightly woven cotton or microfiber, allowing skin to breathe against the fabric. Low-quality covers will be waterproof polyurethane and could cause sweating. While waterproof covers might be a good option for children who are bedwetters, they are not good for adults!
Management Tip 4: Control Humidity to Discourage Dust Mite Population
Dust mites don’t drink water. Instead, they absorb all their moisture needs from the air. In low humidity environments, dust mites will huddle together and become inactive. This is reflected by lower overall populations in the Western U.S.A. where there is less humidity.
In the East, Mid-West, and South, where humidity is higher, dust mite populations thrive. Summer humidity provides moisture and warmth, the perfect combination for dust mites. If you have high humidity and a dust mite allergy, consider a dehumidifier to reduce indoor humidity.
Lowering the humidity should provide allergy relief, especially if you’re allergic to mold as well. Dehumidifiers can be for the whole house or for a small room. We reviewed the best dehumidifiers for indoor allergies.
Management Tip 5: Check Your HVAC and Read Our Filtrete Comparison to Reduce Dust Mites
The HVAC is often overlooked as a contributor to dust mite allergy. Forced air can blow around dust mites, pollen, and dander, making allergies worse. Growing up, my family always purchased the cheapest filters, assuming they were all the same.
What we didn’t realize was that cheap filters do little to stop dust mites and other allergens like pollen, mold and smoke. When we used our heater in the winter and air conditioning in the summer we were blowing dust throughout the house. I always hated when the HVAC was running but didn’t understand why.
The big box stores usually carry a limit amount of filters. Did you know that Filtrete offers some amazing HVAC filters? Since I began using high-quality filters I’ve noticed less dust around my house too! Some of their filters are so good they will even capture odors and bacteria from the air.
Using a high-quality filter actually cleans your air! Just remember to change it every 3-6 months. We did a Filtrete comparison to save you time.
In the spring and autumn, you might not be using your HVAC but you’ll still want clean indoor air. If you have serious dust mite allergy, you should get a HEPA air purifier. An average size purifier for the bedroom should suffice, however, there are larger options available if you want a whole house air purifier.
I use 2 air purifiers: 1 in my bedroom and 1 in the common area. I run them 24/7 and they can clean all the air in the house multiple times a day. The filters get dirty after a few months.
Make sure the air purifier uses HEPA filtration otherwise it isn’t getting all the allergen from the air. Rabbit Air Purifiers have excellent customer service and a lifetime warranty (that’s hard to pass up).
Management Tip 6: Consider Allergy Shots or Drops for Dust Mite Allergy
Anti-histamines, steroids and nasal sprays do a good job of reducing symptoms temporarily, but allergy shots and drops are the closest things to a cure for allergies. The shots or drops can be prescribed and administered by a doctor after allergy testing determines the allergy.
The shots/drops are made up of all the things you are allergic to and weekly doses slowly build your tolerance to the allergens. Eventually, your body recognizes the substances are harmless and stops reacting. It is the closest thing to a cure for allergies, and the shots/drops are natural, no chemicals – that’s the medicine I like!
Allergy shots and drops are NOT be confused with steroid shots, which temporarily reduce inflammation and allergy symptoms. This management tip is a long-term solution that can greatly reduce allergy and the need for medication. Learn more about allergy shots and drops here.
As a long time allergy sufferer, I can vouch for allergy shots as the best way to reduce symptoms! I’ve taken allergy shots for almost 4 years and my allergy symptoms are virtually gone. I still take a daily anti-histamine, but my major symptoms like fatigue and rashes have vanished!
For people recently diagnosed with dust mite allergy, it’s important to manage the allergy properly. Taking steps to keep your home clean, especially regarding the floor and bed is essential to reducing dust mite allergy. In addition, using dust mite covers will reduce exposure while sleeping.
Reducing humidity with a dehumidifier is a good option for people in the Mid-West, South, and Eastern United States. HVAC filters are an underappreciated source of allergy symptoms and using good quality filters can effectively act as an air purifier. If possible, supplement your HVAC filter with a HEPA air purifier. Air purifier technology has come a long way and they really work – just make sure it uses a HEPA filter.
Lastly, make an appointment with an allergist to be tested for a spectrum of allergens. Once your dust mite allergy is confirmed, allergy shots or drops might cure you of the disease.
Many people with minor symptoms think that they aren’t affected by allergies, however, after being treated they feel much better than they thought possible. If your symptoms are minor, you can exist on allergy medication, but I try to stay off medicine for long amounts of time
Thanks for reading this article on “the best way to manage dust mite allergy”. These tips helped me feel better and I’m sure they can do the same for you. Visit our website at Dust Mite Solutions for more reviews and products.